Why upgrade Davy Lane Reserve and not a different site?

    Since 2014, Davy Lane Reserve has been nominated as a preferred site for sports and active recreation by several Council and Parks Victoria community consultations about the Healesville Freeway ReserveIn 2022, Parks Victoria’s Community Reference Group also endorsed this in its planning for the wider reserve. 

    Davy Lane Reserve already has a sports field that has been used for community sport since 1975. Earlier this year, the Victorian Government appointed Council as the ‘Committee of Management’ for the site. This means that Council will plan, manage and maintain the site for use by the community. Now that Council has long-term management over Davy Lane Reserve, we can look at investing in upgrades to the existing sports facility at the site.

    The quality of the turf for organised sport and other activities is not at a high standard (there is no irrigation or drainage) and there are no supporting amenities such as change rooms, public toilets, lighting or formalised car parking.

    Upgrading the reserve presents an opportunity to address some of the area’s sporting demand as well as improve the experience of those using the area for walking and other activities.  

    Why do you need more ovals and formal sport in an area that has a number of ovals already?

    In Whitehorse, women and girls participation in traditionally male-dominated sports such as football, soccer and cricket more than tripled from 21 teams in 2015 to 69 teams (1300+ players) in 2021. Almost two-thirds of this growth is at clubs in the eastern end of the municipality (east of Blackburn Road, within 3.5km of Davy Lane).

    Coupled with stable participation rates for male teams, the sports fields in the area are overused and, in some timeslots, there is not enough availability for everyone wanting to play. In winter, ovals are used for up to 111% of their recommended levels causing turf issues and mid-week evening training slots under lights are full. In summer, Friday night junior cricket and Saturday afternoon senior cricket have no more available sports fields for matches, with any additional usage having to be turned away or hosted in other municipalities.

    This pressure on sporting facilities is expected to increase over time as Whitehorse’s population continues to grow. More than 40,000 extra residents will call Whitehorse home between now and 2041 as the expected population climbs to over 221,000 people.

    The proposed floodlit dual-oval concept plan, if delivered, would ease some of this pressure and help us meet increasing women and girls sporting demand. 

    Why is it important to provide more sporting facilities such as ovals for women and girls sport?

    Across Australia, there is a gap in sporting participation rates between males and females. For children aged 0-14 in 2021, 47% of boys participated in sport through a club or association compared to 37% of girls. This gap widens significantly for Australians aged 15+ with male participation at 28% and femaleat 15%. 

    Council is committed to supporting sporting organisations to attract new players and retain existing women and girls participants by providing more upgraded female-friendly facilities that are flexible to also support informal activities such as recreational walking and fitness.

    If floodlighting was installed, will there be glare?

    Modern sports lighting has come a long way in recent years, with improved technology that targets where light is directed and minimises light spillage.

    Any floodlighting would be designed in accordance with Australian Standards – which has specific controls relating to glare and lighting levels at property boundaries. Council engages independent consultants to design floodlighting to certify that it meets Australian Standards and minimises any impacts to surrounding areas.

    Council's Floodlighting Policy and Sporting Facilities Guide govern usage of floodlighting. Use of lighting for weekly training concludes by 9pm at the latest, while competition matches may play until 9:30pm to a maximum of two or three nights per week. 

    Would car parking and traffic be addressed?

    Council will take on feedback from residents and relevant stakeholders to determine car parking needs and traffic management strategies for any option to develop the site and will look to minimise impacts on the community while supporting increases of activity at Davy Lane Reserve. 

    Will I still be able to exercise my dog off-leash?

    Yes. This project has no plans to change the existing arrangement with dogs being allowed on the sports field when not in use by other sporting or community groups. Council will also consider feedback regarding encouraging and better supporting dog activity at Davy Lane.

    Would ovals become exclusively for sport?

    No, there is no plans for Davy Lane to be developed as an exclusive use facility for any user group. The intention of the site is to maximise community benefit and as such it is to be open to the whole community, except during formal approved community activity such as sporting training or competition as governed by Council's Sporting Facilities Guide.

    Davy Lane Reserve accounts for about 10.7% of the broader Healesville Freeway Reserve which includes other open spaces such as part of the adjacent Strathdon House precinct. These areas can be used for passive activity during organised sports activity as well as path networks around the sports fields themselves.

    If I don’t play sport, how will any development at Davy Lane cater to me?

    The site is currently used on an informal basis by people walking dogs and enjoying the outdoors. Recent national research has indicated that the use of public open space and parks for physical activity has close to doubled from 2019 to 2021. Development at the site would also support those who do not participate in formal sport. Facilities including toilets and other items such as outdoor fitness equipment could be placed around Davy Lane Reserve and provide more varied experiences for more informal participants. These items would complement upgrades across the broader former Healesville Freeway Reserve by Parks Victoria, including play spaces and path networks that connect to the shared east-west trail.

    Currently, Davy Lane Reserve is only accessible in daylight hours and development as per the concept plan would open up different opportunities at the site. For example, the installation of floodlighting will allow residents to safely walk around the outside of sports fields while training activity takes place. These floodlights could also be used at a lower lighting level by members of the community when sporting clubs are not present. This would enable safer passive activity, such as dog walking at night.

    Why are you consulting separately to Parks Victoria?

    Council has been closely working with Parks Victoria throughout its project to ensure plans for Davy Lane Reserve and the broader Healesville Freeway Reserve complement each other and fit harmoniously in with the natural environment. The updated concept plan has been developed in discussion with Parks Victoria.

    Parks Victoria’s overall plans for the broader reserve designate Davy Lane as a sports and active recreation zone managed by Council. Parks Victoria is currently consulting on plans for the remaining 89.3% of the reserve which include other areas for passive recreation, conservation, local connections and scenic precincts. For more information on Parks Victoria’s upgrade plans and to provide your feedback visit https://engage.vic.gov.au/healesville-freeway-reserve.

    How did you determine what sports could use an upgraded Davy Lane Reserve?

    The information provided by the sporting expression of interest (EOI) process and existing sporting demand analysis has helped inform the most ideal use for increased participation, if this proposal is supported. The EOI process also indicated that access to an upgraded community facility would be prioritised for women and girls participation.

    In our upgraded concept plan, sporting facilities would cater primarily for female senior Australian Rules Football and female senior cricket, along with other junior boys and senior male teams. The site would likely be used as the winter home of 10 or more teams (250+ players) and 12 or more (180+ players) in summer. This would be a significant increase on the 4-6 cricket teams (60-90 players) who use the site currently throughout the year.  

    The endorsement of specific sporting clubs that could use any future sports fields at the site would occur at a later date if the project progresses. 

    Does the updated proposed concept plan require the removal of any plants?

    Up to 30 plants may need to be removed if the updated proposed concept plan were to be constructed. Some of these plants are trees and a small number are mature trees. If this project goes ahead, we would aim to minimise the impacts on vegetation. Council would have to follow a planning permit process to remove any trees and offset the removal by planting more trees in the local area.

    This is a reduction from an estimated 80-100 plants that may have required removal under the original proposed concept plan.  

    What did the community say in the first round of consultation?

    We heard concerns about how formal sport would impact the current use of the site for dog walking and other informal activities. 

    We also heard environmental concerns about vegetation removal and light spill from floodlighting if the site was developed for formal sport. 

    There is sporting demand for the site on a shared basisTen sporting clubs, representing 2,950 participants, expressed interest in using the site in future.