Heffron Centre FAQs

    Is the project approved?

    Yes. The Development Application for the Heffron Centre was approved on the 4 March 2021 by the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel.

    What is the Heffron Centre?

    The Heffron Centre is a state-of-the-art multipurpose community facility which includes:

    • A gymnastics centre
    • Indoor sports court suitable for basketball, volleyball, badminton, netball and futsal
    • A new home for the South Sydney Rabbitohs (initially proposed for Robey St), including their headquarters, training facilities and community outreach arm Souths Cares.

    Why are all three elements included in the same building?

    The Heffron Centre will be located in one building with dedicated spaces for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, indoor sports centre and gymnastics centre. It was decided in 2016 to locate the three uses into one building with three dedicated areas to reduce the footprint on Heffron Park. 

    One building instead of three buildings also means building costs are reduced and services such as parking can be shared. It also creates opportunities for partnerships and linkages between the different users and means the Heffron Centre will be a dedicated community sports facility where aspiring athletes and community members are brushing shoulders with professional sports players.

    How is the project being funded?

    Both Council and the Rabbitohs have achieved funding contributions through the State and Federal Governments to support the Project. The funding breakdown is below: 

    Indoor Community Sports Centre and Gymnastics Centre:

    • $22.6M Council contribution. Largely funded through
      borrowings as part of the 2017 Our Community Our Future Plan
    • $3.135M State Government grant
      $25.735M TOTAL

    South Sydney Rabbitohs High Performance Centre:

    • $10M Federal Government grant
    • $8.696M State Government grant
    • $4M Rabbitohs contribution
    • $3M Council contribution
      $25.696M TOTAL

    Showcase Field (part of the Heffron Park Masterplan):

    • $6.315M Council contribution

    Why did it take so long? I’ve been hearing about this proposal since 2013.

    Council is committed to ensuring that an investment of this size is carefully considered. This required completing due diligence to ensure Council was making the most informed decisions on behalf of its community. This included budgeting and forecasting, population projections, research into the future of sport, economic feasibility and review by the Office of Local Government.

    How will Council ensure that the local character of the park is retained?

    Council is committed to engaging the community, users and sporting groups throughout the design of the project. We will review the findings from our community consultations including Open Space and Recreation Needs study and Our Community, Our Future survey to understand the aspirations and concerns of the local community.

    We are developing the Heffron Centre in alignment with the Plan of Management design principles and aim to reflect the history of the park, people and culture in our design.

    How will this impact Heffron Park, and current users both of the existing facilities and of the park?

    Heffron Park will remain operational and accessible during construction. The construction zone for the new Heffron Centre will be closed to the public. 

    Safety is paramount to Council and applies a “Zero harm. Zero incident” approach. A Construction Management Plan will be developed to plan the site preparation and construction delivery in a staged approach. 

    A number of environmental investigations will be completed due to the age of the buildings, and a Safety Management Plan will be developed for the project to ensure the safety of community, staff, employees and contractors during the project. 

    Council will consult closely with Matraville Sports Centre and Bunnerong Gymnastics to plan for the construction and delivery of the Heffron Centre. 

    What is a Public Private Partnership and why is this being used for this project?

    A Public Private Partnership (PPP) is a formal collaboration between Council and a private person or organisation to deliver infrastructure, facilities or services. It enables Council to deliver public infrastructure or facilities and services which it may not otherwise have been able to do on its own.

    Council is required adhere to the Local Government Act 1993, PPP guidelines and submitted an assessment of the project to the Office of Local Government before the agreement was finalised. 

    The PPP has made available substantial funding sources through the Federal and State Government to realise the project, it is enabling Council to deliver a high-quality facility, provided cost-efficiencies and increased the return on investment.

    Why is this continuing during COVID-19?

    Council is committed to support our local economy including stimulating spending and employment through important capital works. We are continuing to engage with the community on important decisions and plan for our future safely through online, digital activities and printed materials.

    Read more about Councils response to COVID-19.

    How many parking spaces will be available?

    Approximately 200 parking spaces will be provided to support the Heffron Centre and wider Heffron Park uses. Bus parking and pick up / drop off zones will also be made available.

    Have you considered an Underground car park.

    An underground carpark was considered throughout the planning and research. However, the cost to construct an underground carpark would not provide the best use of government funds and outcome for the community.

    When will construction start?

    Construction will commence in mid 2021 and it will likely take about 15 months.

    When will it be completed?

    If approved, construction will commence in mid 2021 and estimated to take between 12-18 months.  It is anticipated the Heffron Centre will be open in late 2022.

Gymnastics & Indoor Sports Centres FAQs

    Does the gymnastics building need an upgrade?

    The current gymnastics building is a former warehouse from the 1940s and 50s era with a number of ongoing issues including roof leakage, poor amenities and change room facilities, a lack of storage and no air conditioning.   The building is at the end of its useful life and Council has recognised this in proceeding with a brand-new facility to ensure the future of gymnastics for our area.

    How much bigger will the new gymnastics centre be?

    The existing gymnastics facility is approximately 975m2 while the planned gymnastics centre will be approximately 1,300m2 or 33 per cent larger. This includes a larger floor plate for gymnastics activities and larger facilities for changing rooms, storage and office and administration space.

    Is the size of the new gymnastics facility appropriate?

    Council has planned for the new gymnastics centre to service the needs of the local community from grass roots through to competitive level. The size proposed for the new facility is appropriate to service existing members and to grow participation into the future.

    Interest we have received from potential future operators has been strong indicating the size and quality of the new facility is appropriate.

    The new gymnastics centre is designed as a district level sporting facility for the surrounding community.

    Why aren’t you building a state level gymnastics facility? Did Council ever promise to build something bigger?

    While many sporting codes would love to have State level facilities and attract elite athletes from across NSW, we have the difficult job of balancing the needs of all sporting codes. In 2020, over 20 different codes and over 90 organisations shared the use of Heffron Park. 

    During the management planning process for Heffron Park, several requests were made for the inclusion of State level facilities, including but not limited to gymnastics.  Despite the requests, including for gymnastics facilities of 4,000m2 and 3,000m2, Council has never promised a facility of this size.

    Who will run the new gymnastics centre?

    This decision has yet to be made. Local councils are required to go through a tender process when selecting an operator for public facilities.  The process must be fair and transparent to ensure the community gets the best value and experience.  A similar process was recently undertaken for the Heffron Park Tennis Centre.

    Council has been open and upfront about this requirement with current gymnastics providers Bunnerong Gymnastics in all discussions concerning the new gymnasium over the past decade.

    We have called for expressions of interest for operators interested in running the gymnastics centre and indoor community sports centre components and have received five strong applications.  A formal tender process will now be undertaken.  

    The successful tenderer is required to demonstrate financial capacity to meet a $1.2M capital investment for the fit-out and provision of furniture, fittings and equipment for the Gymnastics Centre 

    Gymnastics NSW has been consulted in relation to the development of tender specifications.

    How much will the gymnastics and indoor sports centre cost?

    The combined cost of the gymnastics centre and indoor sports centre is $25.7M. 

    Who’s paying for the gymnastics and indoor sports centre upgrade?

    The new sporting facilities are being funded as follows: 

    • $3.1 million funded by NSW State Government for the multi-purpose sporting facility; 
    • $3.6 million funded by Randwick Council through the recent rating increase levied within Randwick City; 
    • $19 million in loan funding borrowed by Randwick Council.

    Will I have to ‘pay’ for this development through increased costs/fees to my rates or through use of the facilities?

    The indoor sports centre and gymnastics centre are funded as part of the ‘Our Community Our Future’ Special Rate Variation which commenced in 2018-19 and the final rates increase of 5.52% concludes in 2020-21. Funding has also been received from the NSW Office Sport for the Indoor Sports Centre. Council’s contribution to the building of the Rabbitohs High Performance Centre is capped at $3M. 


    Why were these sports selected for the Heffron Centre?

    In planning for the Heffron Centre, Council undertook research to understand a range of sports participation data, current usage, future population growth, changing demographics and lifestyle changes. This research also considered how the facility could be designed to enable versatility and multi-use of the facility for a range of sports and other activities. Through the research and planning process Council has met with a number of state and local sporting groups to inform the research and design of the centre. This consultation is continuing through the project.

    Sports such as squash, racket ball and indoor cricket require specific equipment and materials which would limit the ability for the spaces to be used for other sports and recreational purposes

    It is anticipated the Heffron Centre will be serving the community for the next 30 years, therefore to ensure the long-term viability and best use of funds, Council is creating a multi-purpose sports centre to serve broad community needs and stand the test of time. 

    The indoor sports facility will accommodate netball, basketball, badminton, volleyball and futsal and in addition a dedicated gymnastics facility.

    What has informed the design of the new gymnastics facility?

    The Gymnastic specification was informed by sources including Gymnastics Australia, Gymnastics NSW and the International Federation of Gymnastics, Council’s available site and budget constraints.

    Previous studies conducted on similar reference facilities within the Sydney catchment have shown higher participation rates within smaller floor areas than that which is proposed in the new Heffron Centre.

    While many sporting codes have had to compromise and share a multi-purpose space, gymnasts will enjoy an exclusive facility within the Heffron Centre which reflects Council’s commitment to gymnastics within the area. 

    Has the centre been designed to gymnastics standards?

    For most sporting codes there are specific design standards and specifications. Unfortunately, at present there is no set of endorsed or available design standards for Gymnastics facilities in NSW. The Gymnastics Centre component of the Heffron Centre has been designed accordingly to accommodate a variety of gymnastics disciplines (including Artistic, Rhythmic, Aerobic and Acrobatic). A number comparisons have been conducted to ensure an appropriately designed facility to accommodate community and district level gymnastics. The final internal layouts of the Gymnastics Centre will be established by the appointed lessee of the facility.

    Was Bunnerong Gymnastics consulted?

    All sporting codes and stakeholders were involved in early planning discussions and consultation for the future of Heffron Park.  

    Council officers facilitated several meetings with Bunnerong Gymnastics from 2013 in which it was noted and confirmed by Bunnerong Gymnastics that Council would be tendering the new lease and licence for the operation of the buildings. 

    Given the size and scale of the facility, Council is required to ensure a high level of governance and probity when making decisions in relation to the specific design and operating model of the facility. This includes the appointment of a probity advisor.

    To avoid any conflict of interest now that the project is underway, Council consults with Gymnastics NSW to gain critical feedback in relation to those matters unique to the sport of gymnastics.  

    Some have said that the rate increase was only supported by the community on the basis a State level gymnastics facility would be built, is this true?

    There was no commitment to build a State level gymnastics facility.  

    In 2017, we consulted with the community to gauge support for a rate increase to fund new infrastructure.   An extract from council communications at the time stated:

    “Indoor sports centre and gymnastics centre: The Heffron Park Masterplan identifies the need to rebuild the existing gymnasium and indoor sports centres located along Bunnerong Road in Maroubra. Both of these buildings are dated and are no longer effectively servicing the community. Significant expenditure is required to construct new modern facilities to serve the community into the future.”

    In addition to the indoor sports centre and gymnastics centre, the rates increase is funding various other projects to support our community including the following:

    • La Perouse Museum upgrade
    • New public plazas in Randwick and Kingsford town centres
    • Increasing accessibility by building footpaths on both sides of streets in priority locations 
    • South Maroubra Surf Club Toilets upgrade
    • La Perouse Headland Toilets upgrade
    • Mahon Pool Amenities Building upgrade
    • Randwick Community Nursery improvements 
    • New youth and cultural hall in Matraville.
    • Yarra Bay amenities building upgrade
    • Malabar Junction amenities building upgrade
    • Southern Suburbs Youth Facility 
    • Clovelly Community & Childcare Centre upgrade
    • Malabar Jet Boat Rescue Boat Storage
    • Coogee Oval Grandstand

    How long has Council been planning to upgrade the gymnastics and indoor sports centre?

    Council has been planning an upgrade since 2004 as part of the development of a plan of management for Heffron Park. Lots of other great improvements have taken place including a new Tennis Centre, kids pedal park, synthetic sports field and various clubhouse upgrades. The gymnastics centre and indoor sports centre upgrades are the final pieces of the Heffron puzzle.

South Sydney High Performance Centre FAQs

    What is the current program date for Souths to move from Redfern to new field?

    It is anticipated that the Rabbitohs will relocate to the Heffron Centre in late 2022, ready for the 2023 NRL Season.

    Who will own the South Sydney Rabbitohs Community High Performance Centre?

    Despite Council only contributing $3 million in funding, the entire building asset worth $25.7 million will be owned by Council and its ratepayers.

    Will the community be able to use the rugby league field?

    The field will be accessible to the community outside of the Rabbitoh’s training schedule. Randwick City Council may also use the field for community and sporting events.

    What is the land lease agreement?

    Heffron Park is crown land, under the management, care and control of Randwick City Council. Council will own the Heffron Centre facilities, with a long-term lease of the Community & High Performance Centre to the Rabbitohs. The management of the Indoor Multi-Purpose Facility and Gymnastics Centre is currently being considered by Council. 

    Further information is available in the Council Meeting Business Paper, Agenda and Minutes from 26 February 2019.

     

    Why Bunnerong Road and not Robey Street?

    Investigations were conducted to build the Heffron Centre on the Robey Street side of Heffron Park. However there were significant challenges identified included the land topography, size and scale, parking and view impacts. 

    The Bunnerong Road location provides opportunity for sharing facilities with the new indoor sports centre and gymnastics centre to reduce the building footprint and environmental impacts. It also creates design and construction efficiencies as extensive excavation would not be required and parking and transport benefits can be shared. 

    Why were Rabbitohs selected and not another sporting organisation?

    In 2010, Randwick City Council entered into a “Community Partnership” with the South Sydney Football Club (Rabbitohs). This partnership was developed to assist disadvantaged youth in the local area through the Souths Cares Community Program, and to foster a number of initiatives to promote improved health and fitness. Souths Cares community programs are designed to provide health, education and employment outcomes for the community, and at present have over 15,000 participants per annum.  The Rabbitohs are the only National Rugby League club to have developed a community partnership with Randwick City Council.

    Randwick City Council were approached by the Rabbitohs in 2013 to consider a request to relocate their training and administration facilities from Redfern Oval to Heffron Park Maroubra. Since then, the Rabbitohs have attracted substantial Federal and State Government funding to put towards the project, in addition to its own contribution. The involvement of the Rabbitohs’ will support community groups, schools and sporting teams to increase participation in sport and recreation, provide a base for the not-for-profit Souths Cares, opportunities to develop and support junior pathways in rugby league and provide a purpose-built home for the Rabbitohs supporting the Club’s long-term sustainability.

    Are ratepayers paying for the South Sydney Rabbitohs Community High Performance Centre?

    Council is only contributing $3 million towards the high performance centre.   This contribution is being made in recognition of the important work undertaken by Souths Cares in our local community.

    The Souths Cares charter is to support disadvantaged and marginalised youth and their families through the delivery of capacity building programs addressing education, training, health and employment needs.  

    The high performance centre will allow Souths Cares to double the size and reach of its community programs.

    Souths Cares will be based in the new centre.

    The remaining $22.7 million in funding for the high performance centre comes from $18.7 million in Federal and State Government grants and $4 million being contributed by South Sydney Rabbitohs.

    Will there be commercial space to lease for other community organisations as part of overflow of main centre? Will there be an ability for our local schools to utilise the classroom and theatre?

    As part of the Community and High-Performance Centre, a Souths Cares classroom will be included. This will be available for hire by all members of the community, through Souths Cares.

General FAQs

    Will there be an off leash dog area?

    There is no off leash dog area as part of this project. Visit Council’s website for details on Leash Free Parks in the local area.

    What will happen to the cycle track?

    There will be no impacts on the Heffron Park Criterium Cycle Track. The Cycle Track loops behind the proposed Heffron Centre and proposed showcase training field. The criterium is set to be upgraded as part of the Heffron Park Plan of Management.

    Is a synthetic field proposed?

    No synthetic field is proposed. A turf rugby league training field will be developed that will meet NRL training requirements.