Next stage in the Unley Oval Improvement Plan

Council is requesting input from ratepayers and users of Unley Oval for the next stage in the Unley Oval Improvement Plan.

Unley Oval Pirate Ship playground

Unley Oval Pirate Ship playground

A forgotten component to the plan is reconfiguring the hill in the north west corner. This is where the oft visited pirate ship is located. The equipment is quite old. We have allocated funds in the current budget to upgrade the playground.

Since the commencement of the improvement plan the focus has been on how improvements to the ground will favour the Sturt FC. It is time now to bring the focus back to our kids.

Council does not have any firm ideas on what the playground might look like.  We are seeking community feedback to help us develop a great new space.

Whilst the ‘hilltop’ playground is not aimed at any particular age group at present, the upgrades will consider play opportunities for age 5-12 years. The playground on the other side of the Oval caters for children younger than this.

Things you might consider include ideas from the following list without being limited to it:

  • Replacement of the existing pirate ship and woodchip softfall with new play equipment and softfall, aimed at age 5-12 years.
  • The existing seat/table be retained or maybe relocated.  The existing ‘daisy swing’ may or may not be retained.
  • New play equipment (specify type) be installed in (generally) the same location as the existing playground (top of the hill).
  • The view of the oval and Adelaide hills will be maintained.
  • No change to the hill/mound
  • Other

We have determined that a shade structure will not be installed as part of this project and the existing natural shade will continue to be used.

Please give us your thoughts on the next stage in the Unley Oval Improvement Plan via one of the following methods:


Unley Oval Grandstand upgrade ready for public engagement.

The next phase of the master planning process for Unley Oval took the next step today. Concept designs for the Unley Oval Grandstand upgrade have been completed and ready for the next round of consultation.


Unley Oval Grandstand

This is a necessary step so that we can be what you might call “shovel ready” if and when funding from outside sources ever become available. In today’s financial climate that does not look like being around the corner but we need to be ready if and when it does and in time in will.

Community engagement on the Future Grandstand Upgrades at Unley Oval has commenced today and will close on Friday 13 November.

Hard copy information is displayed at the oval, and in the civic centre foyer, libraries and community centres.  Feedback forms are also available at these sites.

The online ‘Your Say Unley’ portal will be the primary source of information (including FAQs) and for receiving feedback, however hard copy forms may also be posted or handed in at the civic centre.

The online link can be viewed here –

We have also written to local schools and the Unley Oval clubs to promote to their networks.

Can I encourage you to contribute to the process.

Unley Oval Grandstand Upgrade

A key component of the recent Unley Oval master planning process was to consider upgrades for the ailing health of the Unley Oval grandstands.


Council had previously resolved that it would be appropriate to have “shovel ready” plans for the redevelopment of the grandstands, in the event that a grant funding opportunity presents itself in the short to medium term. Whilst both the State and Federal Governments both have tight budgetary concerns currently we resolved that it is prudent to be ready for whenever grant funding may become available.

As part of the process of being shovel ready Council last night considered a proposal to take concept designs out to consultation. These designs focus on what council have previously indicated is their preferred option for upgrade.

If completed, the grandstand upgrades will provide a significantly enhanced experience for users of Unley Oval.

Whilst the upgrades will not mean any significant visual change to the oval vista when viewed from anywhere on the playing field or surrounds, they will deliver facilities much more closely aligned to the AFL Preferred Facilities Guidelines for State League competitions. They will also provide much improved facilities for all other users of the oval besides the footballers, in terms of amenities, canteen access, and community function facilities.

The key features of the nominated upgrade option include:
McKay Stand
• Small extension on northern end containing Umpires Rooms and possible Property Store on the ground floor, and a new public canteen on the upper level which is directly accessible by the public from the mound in front of the stand
• Interior fully upgraded for use as ‘away team’ rooms with locker room, warm up room and replacement amenities
Oatey Stand
• Ground Floor – new public toilets, new ‘home team’ rooms
• First Floor – office accommodation
• Second Floor – function rooms
• Lift to be installed

The total estimated project cost is in the order of $8.25 million, and it is anticipated that grant funding and contributions from the Sturt Football Club (perhaps via the SANFL Football Park distribution) would comprise a major component of this amount.

Living Active in Unley

Last night Council endorsed the draft Living Active Sport and Recreation Plan 2015-2020. This is a policy that has been in the making now for a while and is related to the Healthy and Active Community component of The City of Unley Community Plan 2033.


Known as the Living Active Plan it has been shaped by other related projects, including the Active Unley research project, the Unley Oval Improvement Plan, the Goodwood Oval and Millswood Sporting Complex Improvement Plan, the Community Asset Review (2011-2013) and the development of Council’s new Open Space Strategy.
A summary of key actions is as follows:
• Develop and implement a Healthy Communities program, which includes innovative and relevant activities that promote participation in physical activity and healthy living in the City of Unley.
• Investigate the establishment of an active travel education program to provide information, awareness and training and to promote the benefits of walking and cycling.
• Identify and secure opportunities to implement the Improvement Plans for Unley Oval, Goodwood Oval and Millswood Sporting Complex.
• Support the development of an ‘iconic’ play space in the City of Unley.
• Actively work with the Adelaide City Council to provide guidance and advocate for the development of the Adelaide Park Lands to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Priority projects include a regional dog park and the investigation of new hockey facilities in the South Park Lands. This is page 5 of the Council Agenda Reports for 13 July 2015
• Support our local sport and recreation organisations to remain financially sustainable and implement governance frameworks through advice, forums and information.
• Encourage and support local sports clubs to adopt the Good Sports and Star Clubs initiatives, and continue to recognise the volunteers of these clubs and the contribution they make to the community.

This is in my opinion a well considered plan that accurately identifies what we should be considering in the next decade in order to ensure you and I and our neighbours are kept active and healthy.

Of significance not only does the plan recognise the need to redevelop Unley & Goodwood Ovals and Millswood Sporting Complex, it recognises that we should actively pursue opportunities with our neighbouring councils and in particular Adelaide with better using the South parklands.


Councillors taken off Ovals

The headline reads Councillors taken off Ovals and this has me gobsmacked.


Tucked away on page 5 of this weeks Eastern Courier is another article that has me wondering if I should rely on them for knowledge of what council is doing. For the third time this week their take on what council has or has not or is or is not doing differs from my understanding.

From where I sit Councillors taken off Ovals could not be further from the truth, let alone that staff would no longer be attending meetings.

I fervently hope that readers do not rely on the Eastern Courier to know what Council is doing. I find myself again this week saying this is my take on what has occurred.

Given legal advice received on the way our numerous advisory groups were constituted under the requirement of the Local Government Act we needed to make some changes to allow those who wish to continue to so do.

Yours Truly moved a motion that was accepted unanimously and which included


1   That Council no longer coordinate the following reference groups:

• Unley Oval

• Goodwood Oval

 2   That the Reference Group members be advised of Council’s decision and be encouraged to continue under their own leadership

3   That elected Members be encouraged to communicate with the community groups as required.


So I question do I rely on the Eastern Courier to tell me what I am doing or do I rely on my own I suggest intimate knowledge having been the prime mover.

As a matter of interest and as a postscript. Members of the current Reference Group will be meeting next week to determine how we constitute ourselves for the future. Yes Ourselves, elected members included!

The motion did not make any reference to staff involvement and I can assure members of the Goodwood Oval Reference Group that if they wish the attendance of our staff at any of their meetings Council will respond positively.

Sturt to share in the proceeds of the Sale of Footy Park

The following transcript is an article on the SANFL website. Seems the league will be bailing out all their clubs over the coming years as a result of the pending sale of Football Park.

As  read the article it seems also that some clubs and Sturt, after their particularity intense effort to solve their own debt problems, may by in line for  grant that will assist in the redevelopment of Unley Oval.

SANFL announces debt relief payments for clubs

SANFL clubs will share in additional game development payments over the next seven years under a commitment from the SA Football Commission to help clubs retire debt.

The eight SANFL clubs – Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens – will each receive an additional $2 million in game development payments between 2016 and 2022 inclusive.

The funds will become available to the SANFL for distribution to the clubs as part of the staged redevelopment of the AAMI Stadium precinct, with the first payment of $125,000 per club scheduled to happen in October 2016.

“The fact that the SANFL is moving into a position to be able to further assist clubs is obviously a good thing,” SA Commission Chairman John Olsen said.

“However, this should not be misinterpreted as largess to help the clubs run their businesses.

“The funding comes with a strict series of conditions to ensure the focus is on reducing debt and building savings.

“This is a once-off opportunity. We are realising the value of what is our biggest asset and we must therefore do so in a way that maximises the outcome. For many clubs, this will not be a panacea. They will need to continue to commit to debt and expenditure reduction to ensure they can all emerge stronger for the future.”

The SANFL clubs will receive staggered payments subject to conditions that include extinguishing any outstanding tax or employee superannuation commitments and reducing both secured and unsecured debt.

Only once a club has paid its outstanding debts can it commit any of the funds to savings, and it must do so by investing in such a way as to preserve the capital amount.

It can then – with the approval of the SA Football Commission – potentially use those investments as security against future borrowings.

“The redevelopment of our asset at West Lakes delivers some critically important short, medium and long-term benefits for South Australian football,” Mr Olsen said.

“In the first instance, the initial $10 million up-front payment from the developers enabled us to immediately pay off our debt with the AFL,” he said.

“Over the next seven years we will retire the League’s remaining debt and, with these additional payments, assist the SANFL clubs to significantly improve their viability.

“From 2022, we will then be able to commence contributions to a future fund for South Australian football which will further underpin its financial security.

“This is all part of a wider SANFL strategy to ensure football in this State is as strong as possible for generations to come.”

Buy A Picket for the Unley Oval Fence

With their Buy a Picket campaign the Sturt Football Club have secured the 1/3 rd contribution they were hoping to get from the SANFL to secure the installation of picket fencing around the Unley Oval.

I have received word that Sturt, after failing to get a contribution from the cashed up SANFL (if recent reports about their recouping an extra $3 plus million from the success of the Crows and the Power at Adelaide Oval this year are accurate), have by copying the buy a picket program of Adelaide Oval may well have succeeded in getting the pickets around Unley Oval.

The motion I moved at Council for the Picket Fencing contained a condition that Sturt who had promised to contribute 1/3 the cost of the fencing would have to find someone else to contribute likewise because we (the Council) would only contribute 1/3. The initially felt they had a good case to put t the SANFL but no grant was forthcoming from them. This is in spite of the rumoured gold mine for the SANFL in the form of the Adelaide Oval.

Unley Oval Pickets



So the Double Blues figured they could copy the buy a picket campaign at the Adelaide Oval. And as I understand it this has been a successful campaign. They have sufficient pledges, perhaps with supporters of the Sturt District Cricket Club also putting their hands up, to cover that final 1/3 cost.

If this is the case then I expect they (Sturt) will be providing Council with the evidence very soon and we could see tenders called as early as before Christmas and work commence early in the new year, in time fr the start of the next footy season.

If Sturt FC can be as successful on the field as they are currently showing off the field a premiership is probably just around the corner.

Unley Oval. We can make a decision

Unley Oval’s picket fencing around the perimeter of the Oval gets the go ahead after a marathon session on Monday night.

My motion, an improvement on an option suggested by our Administration, was carried 8 to 4.

Concerned that the motion suggested by our Administration did no go far enough I opted to be the mover of an alternate motion, albeit an extension of their suggestion. In lieu of  gates being spaced at 50 metre intervals I felt it more desirable and truly representative of our stated aim to keep the oval as open as it is possible by adding a condition that the final design allows for gates to provide access to all key features of the facility as far as is practicable.

I am proud to have taken the lead on this. Being personally non political I did my homework to make sure that whatever decision I made would be the correct one. That entailed being fully aware of what the public said in our consultation by reading all submissions.

As I indicated on the night it was interesting to note that those for and those against used the same argument. It will improve the look and feel of the ground vs it will destroy the amenity of the ground. It will be safer vs it will cause safety issues.

I found I had to determine for myself what was correct and I saw the use of a low level picket fence with appropriate openings as improving the amenity. I also saw, after a member of the public provided a photo of a child, supposedly belonging to one of the coaching staff at a recent training session out on the Oval with the playing group.

Whilst that may have been a common place practice when I grew up we know much more about Work, Health, Safety and have legislation drawing us to ensuring safe work places; as this must be seen to be.

This ultimately tipped my hand to being in favour of a fence because it addresses in my opinion the landlords obligations toward providing a safe work place. This WILL assist in avoiding injury to children of other parents during matches (at all levels, not just league) and training sessions.

If coaches allow their or players children onto the playing arena that becomes solely the responsibility of the Sturt FC. As I indicated on the night in my talking to my motion the President and the CEO of the club I am sure will take action against the offender and to ensure all personal are more conscious of safety in their workplace in the future.

Of course the fence cannot and will not be erected unless we can secure funding of 2/3 rds of the cost of the fencing from outside, a key component of the motion. So as I am tending to say with many of my blogs….watch this space.

Pickets “point” to failure to communicate

The “official” Unley Oval Picket Consultation has now ended. Based on responses I have personally received I am concerned the public are not aware of what we are proposing and seeking their feed back on.

As identified in my other blog today we (the elected members) are getting direct feedback from some. When I read this feedback I am convinced many, both for and against, do not know what they are being asked to comment on.

Given my penchant for identifying where we might be lacking in communication skills I was disturbed by this.

My reading of the responses I have received indicate to me that many believe that the fencing will be permanent around the “full” perimeter of the oval. I also read from those that were speaking against the fencing that they were most unimpressed that the oval would be cut off and isolated. Those speaking in support were highlighting that kids and dogs could now be separated or that kids would now be stopped from running away from mum and dad straight out onto the street.

Having not seen our communication because I have been focused on matters home here in Goodwood South I checked our Have Your say website to find out why.

In putting the motion to go out to public consultation I spoke that I wanted to know and I wanted you to know where the openings would be,  how many openings there would be, and how big they would be. My theory was let our people know exactly what we are proposing so they can provide informed comment.

The only reference to openings on the landing page was a photo showing a very small gate through which the picture is focused and white around  the entire boundary shown in the photo. So first impression is the openings are going to be quite small, big enough only I trust for disabled access, prams etc but essentially personal access only.

I then went looking to see if there was information answering these questions. Nope! not on that page.

There was a FAQ list but it did not present what I was looking for until pressing on “more”. What I found then was openings would be 50 m apart but not located. We could not determine how wide they would be, yet?

For my money I reckon a significant percentage of people would not have looked that far and therefore would have only been guessing when responding.

I had expected to see a layout showing the where, the how big etc. I also expected that the openings would be larger requiring lengths of temporary fencing to still be required on “game” day. Apparently not, meaning I also don’t know what is being proposed and this means there exists a communication gap between me and our staff.

As the mover of the motion I can only say that this serves again to highlight to me that communication remains our most important challenge to solve in the next term of Council and going forward.

The new way for the public to respond to Council consultation

Unley Oval Picket Fence consultation has now closed as my email inbox is being inundated with responses direct to me and my fellow councillors.

We may be seeing the start of a new means of people responding to our public consultation processes.

I have received a dozen plus emails on the Unley Oval Picket fence consultation, both for and against. As I read these emails I get the feeling that many do not know what they are responding to. Again I find, when checking our communication, we have failed to properly communicate what is being offered. That is another storey however for today’s separate blog.

Advice from a member of our staff indicated to me not that long ago that there was a particular trend to the responses they have received and that is on the side of supporting the proposition. The trend from my inbox is the opposite however, with the majority against it.

This raises the question to me whether or not the people emailing the elected members have put their thoughts in through the designated channel or simply choosing to by pass the official channels and influence elected members direct.

I will find out soon enough of course in this case when our admin prepares their report and I compare their list of respondents to that I have received from.

So, as I push my campaign for better communication skills from within Council, I wonder if we will have to review how we receive responses and what credence we put on emails direct to elected members.