BENDIGO'S major leisure asset – Rosalind Park – is in urgent need of planning vision, according to the author of a long-neglected Master Plan commissioned by City of Greater Bendigo council.
“Do we need a master plan? Yes,” Trevor Budge said this week.
“But first we need the vision, a sense of what we need in the space in 20 years’ time.
“It’s our flagship, if I’ve got my figures right it was 66 acres and now it’s nine, everyone has had a bit of it, and its very eclectic use.
“What we need is a coherent vision, to decide if it’s multi-purpose to serve all, or if it has focus.”
Professor Budge, who co-ordinates the Planning program at La Trobe University Bendigo campus, authored a Master Plan for Rosalind Park in 2004.
Called “Vision”, the 144-page document included recommendations for future developments in the precinct spanning five to 50 years.
Short-term recommendations included the development of car parking alternatives and the restoration of the courthouse.
Longer-term recommendations included the removal of the telephone exchange, the development of the Williamson Street car park into formal gardens, and the redevelopment or removal of the Park Road hall.
The report noted council’s “impressive effort” to restore part of Rosalind Park to its original open green space.
“However, other development has been haphazard and has not addressed the park in its entirety, with each new development addressing only the immediate needs of the time,” it said.
“This short-term planning perpetuates the notion that Rosalind Park is an inexhaustible resource.
“Today, through the Rosalind Park Master Plan, council has an exciting opportunity to revisit the original vision for the city.”
Council Community Wellbeing director Pauline Gordon said this week the Master Plan was adopted at a council meeting in September 2004.
“It is my understanding they are still working off it,” Ms Gordon said.
In 2011, the removal of trees in Rosalind Park to make way for a netball court prompted Eaglehawk Ward councillor Peter Cox to call for a delay, until a master plan had been developed for the park.
At that time, councillor Rod Fyffe said the Master Plan was due in six months.
Ms Gordon confirmed this week work has recently begun on a new plan, in conjunction with the 2004 Master Plan.
“The one we are currently doing is for upper Rosalind Park, and that’s what we’re focussing on now,” she said.
“We’re in its infancy.
“It’s a massive piece of work that will take some time to do.”
Ms Gordon said the new plan will be “informed by” other documents, including the 2004 plan which is not on council’s website because digitalised records go back to 2005.
“It needs to be considered in conjunction with other plans in the CBD as well,” she said.
“It needs to be a very treasured piece of open space.”
Prof. Budge said issues include how to improve the impact of the “backyards” facing the park on the View Street boundary and also the number of different sports uses.
“You have to be sensitive to all the users, but there is a collection of croquet grounds, swimming pools and so on, and they are important but some of them look tired.”
Prof Budge called on the new council, due in October, to open discussion to the public.
“With a new council coming, wouldn’t it be good if the new mayor said, ‘we’re going to have a whole lot of community forums about the future of Rosalind Park’.”