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Award-winning Bay Pavilions marks new model for sustainable facilities to serve communities

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Award winning Batemans Bay, Bay Pavilions

Batemans Bay has a new award-winning aquatic, arts and leisure centre

The centre, Bay Pavilions, with a total project cost of $63.5 million, encompasses an indoor multi-pool aquatic centre, state-of-the-art gymnasium and 350-seat performance space, joined by an art gallery walk that houses visitor information. There are also extensive landscape, road and civil works associated with the facility.

“This complex project is a model for how regional councils can co-locate modern, economically sustainable and integrated facilities to serve the needs of their communities well into the future,” said NSW Public Works Capital Projects Director Peter Hogan, who led the project team.

NSW Public Works won the Regional NSW Project award for the Bay Pavilions at the 2022 Australian Institute of Project Management’s Achievement Awards (NSW Chapter) on 8 November 2022.

The centre's construction partner, Adco Constructions, also won the 2022 Master Builders Association of NSW's "Excellence in Construction Award" for Public Buildings $60 million and over, at the awards night on 12 November 2022. Along with NBRS Architects and Donovan Payne Architects winning the Sport and Leisure Facility Design category at the 2022 Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards in July 2022.

These awards recognise the centre, unique in NSW, as a key piece of civic infrastructure.

“It is an inclusive, accessible and diverse community precinct that has become a focal point for the region,” said Mr Hogan. “It provides a unique facility that supports the arts community, health and wellness, while serving as an important social hub.”

Bay Pavilions - Indoor Pool

Meeting community needs

The new centre replaced an ageing 50-metre outdoor swimming pool. “The previous pool was 50-years-old and only operated six months of the year,” said Mr Hogan. “It was nearing the end of its life and wasn’t serving the community’s needs.”

For many years, the local arts community had also been calling for a purpose-built arts and cultural centre. When NSW Public Works was engaged as the delivery partner in 2018, an initial focus was on engaging with the more than 20 stakeholder groups in the community and within Eurobodalla Shire Council.

“We wanted to unify the groups to establish a shared purpose and vision,” said Mr Hogan. Eurobodalla Shire Council with lead architect NBRS Architects and NSW Public Works held a series of meetings with stakeholders, including more than 20 feedback meetings with community groups.

“These meetings helped to settle concerns around the project and gather design feedback for consideration,” said Mr. Hogan. “Collaborating and consulting with stakeholders during the design development was critical to the project’s success.”  Peter Hogan, NSW Public Works

Financially sustainable

A key driver for the project was ensuring the facility was financially sustainable in the long-term.

“While pools may recover their costs, they along with theatres, art galleries and community facilities tend to run at a loss in regional areas,” said Lindsay Usher, Director Planning and Sustainability Services, Eurobodalla Shire Council, who was deeply involved in the project from the start.

“This led to the concept of bringing the aquatic centre under the same roof as the arts and community facilities to reduce construction and operational costs and increase visitation.”

There was also a strong focus on including services that would drive visitation and visitor spend.  These financial drivers for the project included water slides and water play facilities to attract youth, learn to swim, a large warm water pool which is attractive to the elderly and a state-of-the-art gymnasium.

“The financial drivers support the cost of the arts and community facilities, and centre management costs are reduced by having everything in one complex,” said Mr Usher.

Bay Pavilions - Gym Facility

Managing project costs

Despite the project being large, complex and impacted by COVID-19, NSW Public Works delivered the construction works on budget and on time. “We applied NSW Public Works’ rigorous project management framework to ensure we delivered the project on-time and budget,” said Mr Hogan. The framework is a complex and scalable methodology based on industry best practice, assuring clients of effective project delivery.

NSW Public Works Regional Projects Coordinator Rosemary Kelly managed the design development phase of the project. “We worked closely with the client, quantity surveyors and architects to ensure we understood the community’s and council’s needs and expectations, and regularly reviewed the design to avoid scope and cost creep while maintaining high quality design,” she said.

“Before awarding the contract, a final review of the design was completed with the preferred contractor,” said NSW Public Works Senior Project Manager Colin Jeffrey.

“We focused on cost saving opportunities and being innovative, resulting in a $750,000 saving with minimal material changes,” said Mr Jeffrey, who managed the construction delivery phase of the project.

Five NSW Public Works staff worked on the project, coming from the Capital Projects, Hunter New England and South Coast Region business areas. “The staff brought a wide range of experience and expertise, particularly around stakeholder management, strategic procurement, risk management, design management and construction delivery,” said Mr Hogan.

Bay Pavilions Water Play Park
Bay Pavilions Water Play Park

Stimulating economic growth

Construction started in September 2020, after council awarded the construction contract to ADCO Constructions, and was completed on 25 February 2022. The centre opened to the public on 4 June 2022, attracting more than 1,000 people on the first day.

Bay Pavilions Arts and Leisure Manager Chris Tague said the community is delighted with the new facility. “Everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, was astounded at the quality of the build,” he said. “Everyone was amazed at the size of the interior space and didn’t realise there was so much hidden behind that external fa├žade. “The common phrase of ‘well this is pretty fancy for Batemans Bay’ soon became the catchcry for the staff as well.”

Before opening, more than 700 gym memberships and 630 learn-to-swim memberships (the maximum due to teacher capacity) were sold. “Our community has been so hungry for this [facility] for so long,” said Mr. Tague.

Mr Usher said the first-class landmark building provides an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to come together. “After all we’ve been through over the past few years, the positive vibe and feeling this building has created within our community is so important. The smiles on faces, that’s the reward.”

“It has enhanced the recreational, social and cultural life of the Batemans Bay CBD and will serve the community’s and visitors’ needs for many years to come.”

Bay Pavilions - Aerial View and inside the Theatre
Bay Pavilions - Aerial View and inside the Theatre