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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The St George Illawarra Dragons are excited to unveil its plans to build a Community and High Performance Centre (CHPC) at the University of Wollongong's (UOW) Innovation Campus.

What is proposed for the CHPC site?

The St George Illawarra Dragons' Community and High-Performance Centre (CHPC) will be an industry-leading, high-performance training and administration facility that will help create a significant legacy for the community.

The CHPC will allow the Dragons' five-plus existing facilities to come together under one roof at the University of Wollongong's (UOW) Innovation Campus and allow for a crosspollination of the club's elite and junior representative pathway programs.

The Dragons' ambition is to create a world class precinct and facility that:

  • Delivers high performance, administration and community facilities for elite, pathways and community programs;
  • Enhances the partnership with UOW across education, research and innovation;
  • Harnesses the power of sport to expand health and wellbeing programs and other initiatives, and;
  • Deepens community engagement and connection through partnerships, programs, collaboration and learning.

The Community and High-Performance Centre will include:

  • Equitable male and female player facilities
  • Aquatic recovery, medical and treatment facilities
  • High-performance gym, hydration and sport science areas
  • Two full-sized NRL playing fields
  • Lecture theatre and meeting rooms
  • Community classroom and program spaces including internal grandstand
  • Office space for football, community and administration staff
  • Communal dining/function room and lounge
  • Office space for community partners
  • UOW research collaboration space
  • Allied Health area

The introduction of the CHPC will also allow for the entirety of the St George Illawarra organisation to be housed in the same facility for the first time in the joint venture's history.

Where is the proposed development and what is the site currently used for?

The site is located on the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus, at 7-9 Squires Way, Fairy Meadow. It is a plan of subdivision, within Lot 200 DP 1172135, subdivision number SC-2012/72.

The site is within the Wollongong City Council LGA and is currently developed with open playing fields, pedestrian and cycle paths, roads, vegetation, a maintenance yard and three Nissen Huts which have heritage significance. Two UOW campus buildings are also located on the site and include Building 204 and 210 which are currently used for university services, including an alumni bookshop.

How is the University of Wollongong involved in this development?

The Dragons have a long-standing relationship with the UOW that has delivered significant benefits to students, staff, players and the community.

In early 2021, the Dragons and UOW entered into a 'Heads of Agreement' to explore and progress the development of the CHPC at the Innovation Campus.

It is envisaged that the University of Wollongong (UOW) will not only be a lessor and licensee with respect to the provision of the land for CHPC, but will also be a long-term partner and collaborator with the Dragons through its delivery of the CHPC and implementation of programs and functions across elite sport, community participation, education and research.

The UOW will be an integral stakeholder to the design development process, including being involved in reviewing the design of the CHPC at key milestones.

Who is the applicant for this development?

This is a joint project between the University of Wollongong and the St George Illawarra Dragons. The University of Wollongong will be the applicant at this stage.

What benefits will this development bring to the local community? Will the community have access to the new facility and fields?

The ongoing operations of the CHPC will allow the community to access various parts of the site as well some designated areas of the facility itself. These areas will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • NRL field access: In the first stage of the project, one of the two proposed NRL standard fields (north-western field) will be made available for both community and the professional teams' use. A balanced program will be established to ensure the field is adequately shared with professional teams and provide the community opportunities to utilise a brand new NRL field.
  • Community and Education program spaces: Within the proposed CHPC building itself, the design includes spaces specifically for a community and education programs which will be open to the community to be involved in.
  • Cycle and pedestrian pathways: The site will provide access and connectivity to a new public cycle and pedestrian path through the site which connects to existing cycle routes and footpaths along Squires Way and the UOW Innovation Campus.

What are the long-term benefits of this proposal for the local community?

The St George Illawarra Dragons are taking a once in generation opportunity to deliver an industry leading Community and High Performance Centre (CHPC) that will set a new benchmark for the rugby league excellence and create significant legacy for our partners and communities.

The CHPC will contribute to a world class innovation campus and help create a better future for the Dragons, University of Wollongong and the Illawarra community by delivering activated, integrated facilities, partnerships and programs across sport, education, health and wellbeing.

It is expected the development and delivery of the CHPC will create 229 new jobs during construction and support more than 60 new full-time jobs once operational.

Students of UOW will have access to the CHPC for 30-45 hours per week to facilitate improved education, research, data sharing and partnership outcomes.

It will also facilitate football-related placement programs providing up to 300-plus student hours per week as well as ongoing scholarship opportunities available to UOW students each year.

UOW students will also have greater work experience and internship opportunities in the fields of sport, health and business with 75-100 students working with the Dragons and 8-12 internships available each year, providing potential benefits across up to 55 UOW courses.

The CHPC will provide exciting new opportunities to build collaborative community partnership programs, building on the 20 different community programs delivered by the Dragons that engage with 114,000 participants each year.

The Dragons hope this development will act as a catalyst for increased female participation in sport, with an additional 6,000 women playing in the region over the next decade. It also has the potential to increase regular participation in sport in the Illawarra region for over 2,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the next 10 years.

How is the community already engaging with the Dragons?

The Dragons have been working to help support sporting and educational programs within local communities for a vast number of years. Key programs include:

  • 'Best You Can Be' health and wellbeing program, of which over 105 schools participate in.
  • Over 20 different community programs are delivered by Dragons staff and players.
  • School-based and gala/education days already engage over 114,000 participants each year.
  • Indigenous programs and Reconciliation Action Plan include but are not limited to UOW's Woolyungah Indigenous Centre (WIC) and Dragons Community engagement partnership

What does the current zoning allow in terms of use and size?

The site is currently zoned SP1 'special activities' which permits major recreation facilities, community facilities and advertising structures.

What is the planning pathway for this project and when will construction likely start?

The project is sited in the UOW campus, a development carried out by an Australian University is a Crown development. As such the project will be delivered via a Crown Development Application planning pathway.

The development application (DA) is intended to be submitted to Wollongong City Council in the third quarter of 2022. The DA will be placed on public exhibition as part of the assessment process and the architectural drawings and supporting reports will be available for public review and comment.

It is expected that the DA will be determined by the Southern Regional Planning Panel. If approved, construction is anticipated to start in early 2023.

What opportunities are there for community engagement?

The Dragons are committed to engaging the local community, fans, Red V members and other stakeholders prior to lodging this development application.

A number of community information sessions have been planned to provide an opportunity to meet the project team, understand the project and provide important feedback that will then be incorporated back into the design.

The project team will also be arranging several one-on-one stakeholder briefings with targeted stakeholders within the community.

Once the development application has been lodged, a formal public exhibition period with commence which will provide another opportunity for the community to review the final proposal and provide a submission should they wish.

Where can I find more information?

The club is committed to providing further information as the project progresses.

If you have any questions or concerns about the project, please call 1800 870 549 or email community@ethosurban.com.

Are there heritage items on the site?

There are currently three Nissen huts on site which are listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.

The Dragons acknowledge these huts have already been moved from their original location a number of years ago and understands UOW has committed to retaining the huts on site at the innovation campus. This is a key sensitivity that has been considered in the proposal.

The team is exploring potential relocation locations for the huts on the University campus that will enable the huts to avoid any potential risk of flooding.

A heritage impact assessment is being prepared to review the potential impacts of the proposal on these huts as well as their proposed relocation.  This report will be available for review during the formal exhibition period once the DA has been lodged.

Weir Phillips, the Dragons' appointed heritage consultant, is currently seeking feedback from Heritage NSW.

What will happen to the Uni Kids centre and alumni bookstore that currently operate from the huts located on the site?

Several relocation options are currently being explored by the UOW, heritage consultants and other key project stakeholders.

Has a Designing with Country approach to the site been incorporated?

The Dragons are committed to creating genuine connections with country and the Indigenous elders and community that care for and are responsible for country. The project is located on Dharawal country, on a site of significance for First Nations Peoples.

The project has been guided by the NSWGA Connecting With Country (draft) and has engaged with First Nations Peoples from the very early stage of this project.

This has included meetings on site to hear stories, inviting feedback on the proposal, and identifying potential community benefits, opportunities for public art collaboration, and key cultural narrative considerations.

Will the site incorporate car parking?

The proposal is anticipated to include an additional 60 car parking spaces.

Will the development create neighbourhood noise disturbances?

The development will be designed to minimise impacts from noise to nearby neighbours. An Operations Management Plan (OMP) will be prepared to guide and manage day-to-day operations, including hours of operation and games times. This plan will outline measures that will aim to mitigate noise issues. An acoustic report is also being prepared that will assess the impacts of the proposed development on surrounding neighbours as well as make recommendations on the appropriate mitigation methods to reduce potential impacts.

Will the proposal add to existing traffic and parking issues?

A traffic engineer has been engaged to undertake an assessment of the proposed development's impacts on local traffic conditions. This traffic impact assessment provides recommendation that will help mitigate issues around road safety, parking, and congestion. This report will be available for review during the formal exhibition period once the DA has been lodged.

Are the Dragons permanently moving to Wollongong?

The team have a geographically dispersed fan base, from Sydney to Batemans Bay and Canberra. The club are looking forward to strengthening the image of one club, across the united organisation.

Will there be any removal of trees on the site?

The trees on the perimeter on the site are being maintained. Any tree removal that is necessary will be conducted under the guidance of a qualified professional arborist. The development application will also be accompanied by a comprehensive landscape plan that provides for additional planting and public realm improvements.

The ovals are prone to flooding – how will this be managed?

The proposed CHPC is located within the Fairy and Cabbage Tree Creeks floodplain. Detailed flood modelling has been undertaken to assess the site and review potential impacts to the proposed development. A number of mitigation measures will need to be undertaken to ensure the site is safe for users and potential stormwater and run off impacts are appropriately managed.

I have heard about acid sulphate soils being present on the site. What are these and how are they being managed?

Acid sulfate soils are natural sediments that contain iron sulfides. They are common along the NSW coast and may be present on this site. When disturbed or exposed to air these soils can release acid, affecting structures and impacting local fauna and fauna.

The site is identified as being affected by Class 3 and 5 acid sulfate soils. An acid sulfate soils management plan will be prepared if deemed necessary. Due diligence in testing has been undertaken and treatment options are being explored.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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