Council’s $12.9 million plan to upgrade Aqua Energy in Sale

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council will be looking to secure at least $3 million from the state government for a $12.9 million upgrade of the Aqua Energy leisure centre in Sale.

Council this week approved a concept design for the redevelopment, and will move to finalise the design and apply for government funding.

The redevelopment will enable the replacement of the half-century-old 25-metre indoor pool, as well as its hall.

The project will also provide better access for people of all abilities into the precinct.

Plans for the redevelopment include a new 25m pool with six wider lanes, pool hall and water treatment system; new zero depth indoor water play space; 24-hour access to the gym; new wet, dry, schools and family change areas; a new sauna; a new on-deck swim school office; and refurbished outdoor pool change rooms.

Council was looking to replace the shell of the 25m pool and refurbish the pool hall, but architects for the project advised that just refurbishing the hall would not be structurally viable.

Mayor Alan Hall said the new development would not only result in the 25m indoor pool replaced, but would improve accessibility.

“Aqua Energy is visited around 220,000 times per year, from not only people in Sale but throughout Wellington who come to experience these great facilities,” he said.

“Aqua Energy already caters for every stage of life from babies learning about water safety to our older residents who love the Living Longer, Living Stronger gym sessions and hydrotherapy sessions.

“But wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could do better and provide even more accessibility for those who would benefit from these facilities?”

Among improvements slated for all-abilities access include ‘changing places’ amenities for older children and adults with high support needs, and the elimination of all internal ramps and stairs so that the entire complex is on one level, with universal accessibility achieved throughout.

School and member access to and from the precinct will also be improved, with an upgraded entry from Guthridge Parade car park.

Council has already secured $950,000 from the John Leslie Foundation for the redevelopment, and will apply for $3 million from Sport and Recreation Victoria and seek more opportunities to gain other government grants.

If it gains $3 million in government funding, council will contribute $8.95 million, made up of $4.2 million in borrowings and funding already identified in the capital works budget.

The community and key user groups will be consulted during the finalising of the design.

Councillor Ian Bye said this was an exciting project.

“We’re now approved to go to the full-on drawings and look at funding this,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great facility that will be updated for all residents of the Wellington Shire for many years to go.”