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The Groundz of Dapto planning moves into new phase in 2021

Now the consultation process is complete the Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society chief executive is preparing for the next phase of the planning process for 'the Groundz' starting in 2021.

Ms Novak said the general response suggests the community is ready for the showground to include a dining and family recreational precinct.

She said with Dapto's population growing rapidly, the economic benefit would be significant. Ms Novak said early estimates indicate more than 500 jobs will be generated if the draft masterplan is realised.

"The Dapto AH Society is extremely proud of its history, having served the local community since its conception over 160 years ago," she said. "Since this time though, community needs have changed and the current design of the showground limits its use and is therefore under-utilised by the community.

"Our vision for "the Groundz" provides much needed amenities and green space in the town centre, which will in turn increase the usage of the site and offer a vibrant and exciting community hub.

More than 80 per cent of respondents surveyed as part of the community consultation process indicated they would regularly visit "the Groundz" if it offered a cinema; an indoor and outdoor family eatery, a café precinct, live music and concerts, restaurants and wine bars, and a large outdoor children's playground and parklands.

"The Showground is a precious community asset, and the land will not be sold off to achieve these plans, instead, we will be seeking suitable joint venture and/or leasehold partners to assist us in achieving "the Groundz" vision and draft masterplan," Ms Novak said.

The Dapto AH will work with Colliers International Wollongong managing director Simon Kersten to help secure partners to that can assist in delivering its planned vision for the site.

Mr Kersten said such projects are a once in a generation opportunity.

Ms Novak said Dapto AH Society was trying to activate the site.

She said the Ribbonwood Centre and McDonald's were also on its land and the latest plans fit within existing zoning for private recreation.

What the Dapto AH Society Board is trying to do is activate the site more so the showground area is used all week. She said it is not a council owned showground so more activity will help cover general maintenance costs of keeping the gates open on the 9 hectare site in the middle of Dapto. And they want to do that by diversifying giving the community what it wants and will frequently use. And in the process generate employment.

Ms Novak said none of the plans are final but the community vision is exciting. She said it had been four years getting to this point and will probably be a five year process delivering the most popular items on the community's wish list following the consultation process.

She said it is about creating a space with lots of different precincts and zones where people can connect and many different activities can be happening at the same time. There is no reason why other things can be happening when the markets are on.

She said the popularity of food vans during COVID-19 were a good example of how popular activating the site can be. She said the masterplan process is happening at the same time as Wollongong City Council's town centre plan which is good time.

"What we are doing is what they said Dapto needs," she said. Greyhound Racing NSW, which currently operate under licence at the Showground, will be included in the process and invited to submit a proposal. Ms Novak said all the present stakeholders will continue to be kept up top date with all progress made through the planning process

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Dapto Agricultural & Horticultural (AH) Society has completed its community consultation and is looking forward to 2021 and progressing into the next phase of its exciting plans for the future of the


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