Strategies adopted to guide the future of Buildings and Open Spaces

Murray River Council

Murray River Council has this week endorsed two draft strategies that outline changes to asset maintenance and delivery moving forward.

Council’s draft Parks and Open Space Strategy 2024-2034 and draft Buildings Strategy 2024-2034 have been developed to guide the organisation’s ongoing management and investment in both council-owned buildings and open spaces.

These documents also feed into Council’s larger ‘Sustainable MRC project’ which encompasses a number of service and service level reviews by Council aimed at securing long-term financial sustainability.

Mayor Cr Frank Crawley said the strategies have been developed through consultation with the community, user groups and ongoing assessments to gain an understanding of usage requirements.

“In March 2022 we began a process of reviewing our assets to ensure we are growing with our communities and investing in the right assets in the right ways. This included buildings, facilities, recreational and open spaces as well as general land.”

“We had direct engagement with users, clubs and groups along with survey-based feedback from users of our park spaces. This was no mean feat, with over 700 blocks of land and open spaces assessed on their own.”

Cr Crawley said the council took a ‘needs and demands’ approach to better understand the usage requirements of council’s assets.

“What we discovered is that there are a number of assets within Council’s portfolio that may not be providing value to the community like they once did, and in many cases, the cost to the ratepayer is outweighing the need.”

This relates to the maintenance of things like underutilised halls or over-servicing of some areas of park space.

“Whilst there’s no single solution to addressing the increasing maintenance requirements of our large asset base, these draft strategies go a long way to help us to manage our facilities and spaces more sustainably moving forward,” Cr Crawley said.

The draft Parks and Open Spaces Strategy will be a guide to the ongoing management of existing spaces, whilst also offering guidance around any future open space development. It is also supported by a Service Delivery Plan, which offers clear direction on servicing levels and inclusions at various parks and grounds based on an adopted ‘hierarchy’.

“These park hierarchies will now guide the minimum service level to be carried out at each location, based on land area available, population that the space will service and characteristics of the land, among other things,” Cr Crawley said.

“Our community will be able to view the Service Delivery Plan and service levels at each open space site via the draft documents.”

The draft Building Strategy takes a similar approach with regards to maintenance hierarchies, covering facilities such as public halls, offices, libraries, public toilets and sports pavilions.

The hierarchy classifications are defined by the current state of building, frequency of use, community visibility and the visitation rates for each site.

The draft building strategy also offers a clear rationalisation plan moving forward for various buildings and sites than may offer little value to the community or are at ‘end-of-life.”

“When we speak of rationalisation, it’s important to note though that some recommendations are subject to other management plans or investigation taking place,” Cr Crawley said.

“For example, there may be a recommendation to offload an asset in a particular town, but this is often subject to there being an alternative or consolidated option – it’s not just about getting rid of things.”

“This is where the Building Strategy is really important as it offers comprehensive information on our sites and takes a full-look at what facilities we have servicing each town.”

Murray River Council’s draft Parks and Open Space Strategy and draft Buildings Strategy are currently on public display via council’s Your Say platform:

There is a separate project page on each strategy along with online submission forms to capture public feedback.

“I would encourage the community to take a look at the strategies as they offer an important step in addressing our service delivery requirements moving forward,” Cr Crawley said.

Submissions will be accepted until 28 June 2024.

/Public Release. View in full here.