By Kate Taylor
There are now high hopes of developing Bald Hill into a popular area for outdoor activities.
The March 7 council meeting heard that there are many options to pursue for the area, following a request late last year by East Ward Councillor Jarrod Bingham to look into developing the area into a destination for outdoor activities.
The Bald Hill Activation Project Background Paper and Scoping Document was tabled at the meeting, finding that the site has various topographical, access and planning control constraints that make development for residential and organised sport difficult, however, the site is well suited for a range of alternative uses.
The report noted that activities that would be friendly to the Bald Hill area, such as walking, cycling and running, are among the most popular outdoor activities for Victorians, and that there is a growing market within Victoria and Australia of day visitation for mountain biking and trail running, with visitors estimated to spend on average $77 per person per day.
It also noted the State Government has provided funding for the development of similar sites in Harcourt ($2 million) and Creswick ($2.56 Million) in response to the trends in active recreation aimed at attracting higher visitation to the towns.
“The site has potential to be developed as a Regional Level facility that caters for Recreational walking, running, horse riding and cycling; Higher intensity trails running and fitness; and as a Mountain bike facility,” the report reads.
Funding is available from the State Government to undertake a feasibility study into recreation and economic benefits of developing the site for active recreation purposes.
“While constrained under State and Local Planning Studies, there is potential for the northern edge of the reserve adjacent to Swans Road to be considered for inclusion in the future non-urban investigation area – subject to funding.”
Council officers will now pursue funding for a feasibility study, including a bid for $30,000 from council’s budget but also exploring government funding options.