Council is planning to develop a new aquatic and wellbeing centre to replace the existing Dandenong Oasis which is nearing the end of its effective life. This major infrastructure project is a key recommendation from the Greater Dandenong Aquatic Strategy and will have a targeted focus on health and wellbeing.
Council resolved in September 2019 to develop a new aquatic and wellbeing centre at Mills Reserve to replace the existing Dandenong Oasis, which is over 40 years old and no longer meeting the needs of the community.
This major infrastructure project is a key recommendation from Council’s Aquatic Strategy, which is based on the vision to get “more people, more active, more often”.
The Aquatic Strategy identifies the new aquatic centre as an indoor multi-purpose facility that will complement the nearby Noble Park Aquatic Centre (NPAC) and have a targeted focus on allied health, passive activity, education, fitness and wellness.
The centre will incorporate traditional aquatic and leisure facility components, but with an enhanced focus on health and wellbeing, in response to identified community need. Key facility components are proposed to include two warm water pools, a 50m pool (with moveable boom), learn to swim pool, leisure pool / water play, spa, sauna and steam room, gymnasium, program / group fitness rooms, meeting rooms, allied health suites, café, creche and amenities.
Council appointed a design team led by CO-OP Studio in April 2021 to design the new centre. The design process will build on previous planning and consultation undertaken as part of the Aquatic Strategy which involved over 1570 engagements/community responses.
The design process is being guided by the following guiding principles:
- Enhancing community health and wellbeing
- Maximising equity and access
- Facilitating social connections
- Providing high quality facilities
- Creating sustainable outcomes
Additional community consultation was undertaken in July / August to seek resident’s views about how to make the new Centre welcoming and accessible to people of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds. A total of 444 engagements / responses were recorded which demonstrated strong support for the project and helped to inform the draft design. The results of this consultation process are available to read in the document below.
Dandenong Wellbeing Centre Community Outcomes Report - 1.5MB
The Dandenong Wellbeing Centre will include a broad range of facilities, as determined by the Greater Dandenong Aquatic Strategy (2019) and refined through subsequent community and stakeholder engagement.
The Centre will be developed as a new two-storey facility in the south west corner of Mills Reserve - south of Dandenong Oasis and car park. Patrons will enter the Centre though a public plaza and expansive foyer which will offer a range of community facilities. Access to two separate pool halls will be provided through a central change village, providing separate zones for active and passive / warm water aquatic activities. A range of dry health and fitness facilities will be provided on level 1 (accessible via a lift and stairs) which will adjoin an integrated sports pavilion.
A summary of key features is listed below:
Warm Water Pool Hall – dedicated pool hall within a relaxed, low sensory environment catering for a range of warm water activities such as hydrotherapy / rehabilitation, gentle exercise, relaxation and socialising. Pools will be accessible via ramps, hoists and pool pods and an operable wall will enable the separation of warm water pools when greater levels of privacy are required (i.e. for women’s only classes, special needs groups etc.)
- Two warm water pools - with six times more warm water than the existing Oasis warm water pool, allowing for simultaneous programmed and casual use.
- Large spa
- Sauna and steam room
Main Pool Hall – large pool hall offering a broad range of aquatic activities for people all ages and abilities.
- 50m 8 lane pool with moveable swim wall (for 50m and/or 25m configuration), ramp access, perimeter seating and access to an external courtyard.
- Learn to swim pool with perimeter seating for parents / carers, adjoining family change area and café wet lounge.
- Leisure pool with children’s water play features and zero depth / beach access.
Change Village - centrally located between pool halls with an enhanced level of privacy and diverse range of options for users including - male, female and universal / all gender change rooms, family changerooms, group changerooms, accessible changerooms (including adult accessible / ‘Changing Places’ rooms) and open concourse showers (to rinse off after a swim).
Dry Health and Fitness Facilities – located on level 1 (with lift and stair access) with separate active and passive activity areas, office, lounge, consulting suites, changerooms and potential for 24/7 access (subject to future demand).
- Gym – large gym with areas for stretching, cardio, weights, functional training and personal / group training.
- Four program / group fitness rooms providing for high intensity group fitness, spin / cycling classes, wellness / gentle exercise and other activities in response to community demand.
Foyer / Community Facilities – expansive foyer with access to a range of community facilities.
- Café accessible via the foyer, main pool hall and public plaza.
- Allied health facility with consulting suites for a range of complementary health services such as physiotherapy, dietician, exercise physiology etc. (Services to be confirmed.)
- Community meeting rooms to cater for a range of programs and activities and with the ability to combine into one large room (using an operable wall).
- Multipurpose room suitable for creche / occasional child care, swim club activities and children’s parties.
- Reception and administration facilities
Sports Pavilion to replace the existing Mills Pavilion and service the adjoining synthetic pitch (and future second pitch). Pavilion will be integrated with the aquatic centre and be developed to a ‘regional’ standard and include four change rooms, social and meeting rooms and other supporting infrastructure.
External areas – including public plaza, seating, landscaped areas and car parking to cater for users of the Centre, adjoining sports facilities and public open space.
Mills Reserve Site
JC Mills Reserve, located on the corner Cleeland Street and Heatherton Road, is the home of the existing Dandenong Oasis and was endorsed as the site for the new aquatic centre in 2019, as part of the Aquatic Strategy.
The new centre will be located within the reserve on Cleeland Street, south of the existing Dandenong Oasis and car park, on land currently used as an informal sports field (refer to plan below).
The proposed site will provide a high-profile location for the new centre with good connections to central Dandenong and will enable the continued operation and use of Dandenong Oasis during construction (subject to any unforeseen disruptions such as COVID restrictions).
The proposed location will preserve the existing synthetic hockey / sports field but will require the development of a new pavilion to replace the existing Mills Pavilion, which is at the end of life and no longer meeting the needs of users. The new pavilion will be designed in consultation with user groups and will include modern clubroom facilities to cater for the existing synthetic pitch, in addition to a second synthetic pitch that is proposed for the site.
A precinct master plan for Mills Reserve is currently being developed and will be available for public comment next year.
Timelines and Next Steps
Council will consider all community feedback in finalising the design for the new aquatic and wellbeing centre.
Construction is proposed to commence in early 2023 and be completed by early 2025 subject to funding.