FIELD OF BIG DREAMS
THIS is Townsville District Rugby Union’s plan to secure the future of the sport in North Queensland.
Five fields, more than 300 parking spaces, better amenities and a new clubhouse would be developed on a 13.5ha site at Murray.
Already at 10 per cent over capacity at Mike Carney Toyota Park on Hugh St, Currajong, the TDRU says it needs to make the move and has subsequently started a masterplan for the site.
However, the move still hinges on whether a $ 15- million plan to redevelop the Hugh St fields into a shopping centre – including a Coles supermarket and up to 18 speciality stores – will be approved by Townsville City Council in the coming months.
TDRU has reached a memorandum of understanding with Parkside Development for a land swap deal for the Murray site.
Parkside has submitted a development application for a material change of use on the Hugh St site from private sporting facilities to com- mercial. The development is facing opposition, with five submissions – including 162 individuals as part of Castletown’s submission – against the development.
Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Tony Parsons said the development application was still being assessed by city planners.
“This is still going through the assessment stage and I will allow the officers to complete the work before forming any sort of opinion,” Cr Parsons said. “I certainly see why TDRU is looking to expand. They’re landlocked in that current position and two full- sized fields is as much as they can put on that site.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said she didn’t want to comment on Parkside’s proposed development but said council would work with TDRU to find a new site. “We will have to wait to see when the report that comes back from staff. The staff will judge it on its merits,” Cr Hill said.
TDRU president Lachlan Bell said moving to the Murray site, on the corner of University Drive and Stuart Drive adjoining the Murray Sports Complex, would secure the future of the league for the next 50 years.
“At the rate of which we’ve been expanding, which has been fairly exponential over the past five years, we knew the time would come when we had to move,” Mr Bell said.
“The opportunity to move to Murray has come out of investigating the potential sites and analysis of our various opportunities, and no other sites provide the level of opportunity as the Murray site.”
A report completed last month by Empower Economics shows the number of junior and senior TDRU teams has increased by 33 per cent over the past six years, with the growth likely to continue.
According to the report, Hugh St lacks the capacity needed for growth and the future of rugby in the city is at risk if the issues aren’t addressed.
Mr Bell said the league was looking to further expand in the coming years with under- 13, - 15 and - 17 women’s teams, and under- 6 and under- 7 competitions.
“Our growth has been a combination of the natural growth of Townsville’s population and a strategic and proactive planning process we’ve implemented,” Mr Bell said.
“We now have five paid staff to help run and administer the game for us. It’s certainly been a lot of hard work but we’re certainly very pleased with where we’re at with the level of participation.”
Artist’s concept of the proposed new home of the TDRU at Murray, slated to include five playing fields.
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