Delivering Updated Facilities for West Footscray

Council has continued to progress designs for Shorten and Barrett reserves - as part of the delivery of the West Footscray Community Facilities Plan (WFCFP) - adopted in September 2020 following two years of community engagement.

This Plan recognises the failing condition of the RecWest building on Barrett Reserve and the need to accommodate existing and future demand for a variety of community uses. The Plan also includes the neighbouring Shorten, and nearby Johnson reserves (both of which are at capacity) to ensure a variety of safe and accessible public and open spaces for all ages to improve community well-being and encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

Since its adoption, Council has been undertaking necessary site planning and due diligence including an environmental audit and risk assessment of landfill ground conditions, inclusive of geotechnical investigations; and continuing to advocate for government funding to support implementation.

Following this site investigations, we updated the Master Plan for Shorten and Barrett Reserves specifically, the proposed footprint of RecWest. The updated Master Plan was available for community feedback during August and September 2023.

We are now considering feedback with a view to sharing the refined Master Plan once available.

The changes are a direct result of the due diligence and investigations undertaken and include:

  • the relocation of the Shorten pavilion to the northwest of the Reserve on the corner of Blandford and Essex streets
  • upgrading the sports fields/oval to a full-size AFL standard oval - which will increase its size and move it closer to Essex Street
  • fully enclosed 4 lane cricket nets, to increase training capacity and improve public safety
  • the expanded footprint of RecWest includes a second indoor court, a community meeting space, a new area for the Scouts and relocated bocce court
  • the proposed transformation of Market Street into an outdoor plaza and active transport pathway to support market days and outdoor events
  • increased planting generally across both reserves. This includes 175 new trees to replace 58 trees that will be removed
  • increased car parking with 35 additional spaces provided in the formalisation of parking along Graham Street

You can compare the changes on the slider tool below or use the hot spot map on the right to learn more about the changes.

Master Plan Slider Tool

Existing Conditions 2023 Proposed Updates

Background information

In 2018, Council undertook a feasibilty study that identified the need for a long-term vision and plan for RecWest Footscray, Johnson, Shorten, and Barrett reserves. This led to the development and adoption in 2020 of the West Footscray Community Facilities Plan which aims to:

  • ensure we have enough sports facilities and open space to meet the current and future needs of the community
  • determine the feasibility of redeveloping the space to cater to a variety of sports and meet the community's demands now and in the future
  • guide the development of Johnson, Shorten and Barrett Reserves and the integration with RecWest Footscray

The Plan is based on project objectives drawn from existing policies and the 2018 feasibility study which includes:

  • being responsive to changing participation trends, community needs, and demands
  • consolidating assets for more efficient and cost-effective asset management
  • ensuring facilities that are fit for purpose and meet contemporary compliance guidelines
  • provision of safe and accessible public spaces for all ages
  • maximising net open space
  • improving facilities while maintaining local amenity
  • providing for a variety of open space uses
  • improved community wellbeing and encouraging healthy active lifestyles
  • encouraging active/sustainable transport modes

In 2023, the State Government committed $10 million toward the $36 million dollar redevelopment to support the delivery of the Shorten-Barrett Reserve Master Plan. This includes the new RecWest building, a new multi-use court for basketball and netball with seating and lighting, along with oval and pavilion upgrades, a new bocce court, scouts outdoor activity area, and new multi-use cricket nets.

During 2019, Council engaged with over 20 sports clubs, user groups, and community groups, and spoke with local schools. We also conducted two online community surveys, which received over 500 responses, and hosted four community drop-in sessions.

A stakeholder reference group was also formed with community members and representatives from various user groups who met to provide feedback on current facilities and draft plans. We also undertook a feasibility study and projected the future demand for our facilities.

The information that we gained has helped us to refine the concept plans in order to facilitate further discussion which was undertaken in early 2020. This informed the final Plan which was adopted in September 2020, where Council authorised due diligence and geotechnical investigations which resulted in proposed changes which the community is now being invited to provide additional feedback on.

RecWest Footscray is located on the corner of Market and Essex streets and includes an indoor stadium/hall with a stage, small gymnasium, meeting/activity rooms, kitchens, an administration area, change rooms and amenities, an unused outdoor court, bocce rink, and small car park.

It once housed the largest basketball club in Victoria, all from a one-court stadium, and was previously an aquatic facility complete with a pool and sauna.

Established in 1961 and managed under contract by the YMCA, today this community-based recreation facility offers Sports Development programs for juniors, sporting competitions, a community health club, group fitness classes, outside school hours care, school holiday programs, and facility hire.

Key user groups include:

  • Senior Citizens
  • Health and Fitness
  • Disability Support Services
  • Basketball
  • Indoor soccer
  • Roller Derby

The Laneway Church also runs services at RecWest each Sunday.

Built in 1953 on top of a contaminated former landfill, the facility buildings and surrounds are failing due to aging infrastructure and subsidence from poor soil conditions. As well as creating voids under the building slab, which are particularly visible on the north side of the building, the uneven settlement of the ground and topsoil has also damaged landscaping and paving.

Extensive geotechnical investigations have been undertaken to identify site issues and constraints to guide potential redevelopment. This work has identified the need for soil remediation before any redevelopment.

Bounded by Blandford, Essex, Graham and Market streets, Shorten Reserve runs adjacent to RecWest and is separated only by Market Street.

It was established on a former quarry site which has been poorly filled, contaminated, and poorly compacted, resulting in an undulating oval surface.

It has an open car park, playground, undersized football oval, sports pavilion, turf wicket, external cricket nets, and a pavilion that no longer meets the needs of tenant clubs including the West Footscray Football Club and Druids Cricket Club.

The Reserve is named for Kevin Shorten, the first civil defence controller of the Footscray Civil Defence Organisation (the forerunner to the State Emergency Service, SES) formed on 8 February 1962. The only unit in Victoria at the time, it was called on to assist at the crash of the Southern Aurora at Violet Town in 1969 and at the collapse of the West Gate Bridge during its construction on 15 October 1970.

Johnson Reserve

Located on 160 Essex Street, Johnson Reserve has one soccer ground with irrigation and a pavilion that has reached the end of its useful life. It also houses one multi-purpose court and one tennis court, both of which have significantly deteriorated over time and are no longer fit for purpose. There is a skate park, and climbing wall, and at the southern end there is a new playground.

It is home to the Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club, an all-female soccer club who have outgrown the existing facility. The Druids Cricket Club also uses rollout synthetic wickets at Johnson Reserve for sub-junior matches and their Milo in2CRICKET program in summer which caters to juniors.

The playing field was temporarily closed in mid-February 2023 for sand/silt drainage works to help the playing field cope over the winter and support improved management and maintenance.

No updates are proposed for the endorsed Master Plan.

Funding for detailed design of a new pavilion was allocated in the 2022/23 Budget – which will include accessible female friendly change facilities and amenities and a public toilet.

You can view a copy of the 2020 Master Plan in the document library.

Please note: an older version of the Master Plan was inadvertently loaded into the document library and has now been replaced with the current endorsed Master Plan.