Flexible community spaces highlighted in regional plan

A covered seating area in Surrey Park's grandstand has been suggested for upgrade. Photo: File

ADDITIONAL courts, a new gymnastics training centre and upgraded squash courts could be part of the future of one of Invercargill’s most popular facilities.

Invercargill city councillors received the Southland regional spaces and places strategy during its infrastructural services committee meeting earlier this week.

The plan Рdeveloped  by Sport Southland, Sport NZ and Invercargill City Council, Gore and Southland district councils Рhas been prepared to strengthen the social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits regional spaces could deliver to Southland.

Among the major challenges were a need to design more flexible spaces as there were many single-use facilities; to maximise the contribution of the spaces to Southland’s economy and the need of renewal work on facilities across the region.

One of the proposals to achieve this goal was to expand ILT Stadium Southland, which was called a great example of a multi-use facility for the region as it hosted national and international competitions, and social events, including conferences, music concerts and community markets.

The plan proposes a case study to expand the venue with the creation of more indoors courts, the retrofitting of squash courts to enhance commercial opportunities and a new gymnastics training centre as the Southland Gymnastics Centre was no longer fit for purpose and had safety concerns.

Another study to explore the development of Splash Palace with an additional pool was also discussed.

It said the number of residents in Invercargill had risen notably in recent years and Statistics NZ forecast it to reach 56,300 in 2028.

The older median age was also highlighted in the document – the Invercargill population had an average age of 39.4 years, while the rest of New Zealand was 37.4 years old.

“Splash Palace facilities and programmes will need to respond to the aquatic, fitness and wellness demands of seniors. There will be a greater demand on therapy-based services in years to come.”

Rugby Park and Surrey Park, which have been in the spotlight for years due to their safety issues, were also part of the plan.

It was suggested further investigation into whether a stadium of the scale of Rugby Park was required and what the alternative uses and costs for the venue were.

A design solution for Surrey Park’s grandstand with the design of a covered seating area for 200 to 300 people was also highlighted.

Athletics NZ considered this mandatory to host national events such as the Colgate Games and it was important for the groups which used the facility.

Invercargill City Council leisure and recreation manager Steve Gibling said the strategy would be a guide document for future sport and active recreation facility developments within the city.