THE battle to find Joondalup United Football Club a home ground will continue.
Joondalup councillors at last night’s meeting voted to not proceed with the redevelopment of Prince Regent Park in Heathridge.
The $3.07 million proposal included two soccer fields and upgraded floodlighting, a new community sporting facility and carpark extension, which would create a home base for Joondalup United.
The club currently uses the park for training and junior matches along with Ocean Ridge senior and junior cricket clubs, Pirates Softball Club and a bootcamp fitness group.
The proposal was approved in August on the condition the facility would not be used for senior National Premier Leagues (NPL) games and that Joondalup United agreed to contribute $100,000, with the council approving an application for some State Government funding in September.
Community consultation was conducted in October, with the City receiving 331 submissions of which 73 per cent were from City of Joondalup residents and 52 per cent were affiliated with Joondalup United.
Of the total submissions, 67 per cent supported construction of a new community facility, 68 per cent supported a carpark extension, 64 percent supported a floodlighting upgrade, 72 per cent were for a barbecue and 81 per cent for a drink fountain.
However, as part of the consultation, letters were sent to 343 residents within 200m of the park, with 63 submissions (18 per cent) received.
Of these, 78 per cent opposed construction of a new community facility, 59 per cent opposed a carpark extension and 68 per cent opposed a floodlighting upgrade, 40 per cent were against a barbecue and 28 per cent were against a drink fountain.
Before consultation, the City had also received 398-signature and 149-signature petitions opposing the redevelopment.
Concerns raised included local residents not having access to the park, increased noise and traffic, lack of parking, the impact of sports floodlighting on neighbouring residents, the cost to ratepayers, the sale and consumption of alcohol and increased antisocial behaviour and litter.
Heathridge residents at the meeting echoed these concerns as well as stating the redevelopment would be a “duplication of services” with three other facilities in the suburb.
City officers had recommended the council progress the project to the detailed design stage following the community support shown in the consultation results, with concerns to be further addressed.
“As a public open space, the area will continue to be accessible by the local community,” a council document said.
“The existing toilet facility is considered poor and inadequate to service the sporting clubs and wider local community needs.
“The proposed Prince Regent Park facility is intended to be available for hire by sporting clubs, schools, community groups and individuals.”
It also said redevelopment of the park was already included in the City’s 20-year strategic financial plan.
“While the proposed redevelopment is earlier than previously scheduled, the proposed works are in line with what would have been proposed for development at the park in 2031-32,” it said.
However, Cr Philippa Taylor moved to not proceed with the project saying the consultation showed “the people of Heathridge do not want it”.
“Residents have expressed their concerns about losing amenity, extra traffic, not being able to let their children play at the park and having a licensed venue metres from homes,” she said.
She said the council should be listening to those that live within 200m of the park and she agreed that Heathridge had enough community facilities with venues being booked under capacity.
Cr Nige Jones agreed and said the park would not meet the requirements of a growing club like Joondalup United and that spending $3 million on another community facility was not in line with the current economy.
However Cr Kerry Hollywood disagreed and said only 3 per cent of Heathridge residents responded to the consultation.
“Joondalup United already uses the ground and sure, it’s going to be busier but that’s going to happen anyway,” she said.
“Concerns can be explored in the detailed design stage.
“They need a home just like every other sporting club we have supported over many, many years.”
Mayor Albert Jacob also continued to support the project as per his election commitment.
“I was a long term resident of Heathridge and I always felt our suburb was overlooked,” he said.
“It has some of the oldest facilities and they are tired.”
He said the consultation showed a “very strong majority of City of Joondalup residents” supported the redevelopment.
The decision not to proceed was passed 7-5, with Crs Hollywood, Tom McLean, Christine Hamilton-Prime and Sophie Dwyer and Mr Jacob voting against.
Prince Regent Park is the fourth proposal to create a home ground for Joondalup United that has been knocked back, following decisions not to support developments at Forrest Park in Padbury, Warrandyte Park in Craigie and Beldon Park.
Joondalup United said in a statement last Friday that its “hopes of establishing a number of women’s teams in the coming years hangs in the balance due to a lack of adequate facilities”.
“With a coach and squad already in place, Joondalup United has committed to fielding a (under) 13s team in the junior girls competition in 2018,” it said.
President Stephen Martin said though a “lack of space and facilities have hampered previous attempts, with no real solutions on the horizon we have no option but to go for it and hope for the best”.
“We currently have men’s team for all ages from 5 to 75 but junior and senior women’s teams will truly make us a club for all,” he said.
The club said it was hopeful the City would approve the Prince Regent Park redevelopment, that included four change rooms and showers.
“Currently, Prince Regent Park has neither of these and many junior players are forced to change at the side of the pitch during winter when it’s cold and wet,” the statement said.
Following the council’s decision last night, the club said it had been “let down at the final hurdle”.
“Our executive committee are bitterly disappointed that their tireless efforts have yielded no home for Joondalup United and this places the club’s future opportunities for junior growth and development in serious jeopardy,” it said.
It thanked its members for their “unwavering support”.