A multisport hub focused on community sport based at New Plymouth Racecourse has been recommended by independent experts.
Sport Taranaki, on behalf of a number of sports codes, commissioned the experts responsible for developing Christchurch's new Nga Puna Wai Sports Complex to develop a master plan for a multisport hub in New Plymouth.
The investigation was a recommendation of the Regional Strategic Approach to Sport and Recreation Facilities adopted by Taranaki's three district councils in 2018.
It was also a response to the frustration sports codes had with a lack of facilities and the number of plans that have never progressed.
The intention is to develop a master plan that has the support of the community to influence the next Draft New Plymouth District Council Long Term Plan which will be released for public consultation in early 2021.
Sports facility development experts from Global Leisure Group and 106 Architects have spent the past six months working alongside sports codes, New Plymouth District Council, Te Atiawa – Te Kotahitanga o Atiawa and Sport Taranaki to identify the appropriate scale of any new development.
Other components to the decision-making included sport participation, facility use and quality to service the district now and into the future. An example is that the New Plymouth Basketball Association needs 87 per cent more indoor court space than it is able to access at the three-court TSB Stadium.
New Plymouth is one of only four regions, the others being West Coast, Northland and Gisborne, without a six-indoor court facility for basketball.
The experts looked at seven sites around the district before recommending the New Plymouth Racecourse. Key factors in the recommendations included the amount of space, proximity to the CBD, site visibility and the number of nearby schools as young people will be the greatest beneficiaries of the facility.
Sport Taranaki CEO Michael Carr has made a statement in support of the recommendation.
"Although this may not be a surprise to many, it was really important that the consultants went through a robust process with a fresh set of eyes to get to this conclusion."
Crucially the current tenants, Taranaki Racing Inc, are keen to share the space with the large number of sports who would use the proposed new complex.
Carey Hobbs, Taranaki Racing Inc CEO, is thrilled with the recommendation.
"We believe that racing and a multisport hub can beneficially co-exist at the New Plymouth Raceway and will be a magnificent asset for future generations in New Plymouth."
The consultants will continue to work alongside key stakeholders to draft concept plans and explore governance models. This should be completed by June 2020. Sixteen sports organisations have already signed up in support.
Carr says if the hub can cater to the needs of the 16 groups already involved, it could service at least 15,000 people a week for practices, games, events and tournaments. This doesn't include potential casual and recreational users.
"Surely there are some massive community wellbeing and health benefits to be realised through bringing people together in a setting such as this."