Hockey WA Strategic Facilities Plan 2009 to 2025

Executive summary

This hockey strategic facilities plan has been prepared by CCS Strategic Management for Hockey WA on behalf of the Department of Sport and Recreation. The plan comprises three discrete reports:

  • The first provides an audit report on hockey in Western Australia at present addressing the number of teams and clubs, their facilities and the competition structure they play under.
  • The second report addresses facility provision standards and requirements and is structured as a series of policies outlining roles and responsibilities for provision.
  • The third report is the facilities plan which identifies where and when facilities should
    be provided based on five year intervals from 2008.

Hockey is played extensively throughout Western Australia and boasts not only high adult participation rates against the national average but also a strong schools program. The number of teams registered with Hockey WA has grown steadily over the past four years and record high levels have been achieved in the past two years. Hockey is quite prolific throughout the south west of the State but doesn't extend beyond the Gascoyne region with Geraldton being the most northerly major hockey location. In the metropolitan area there is a concentration of participation, club locations and facilities in the western suburbs.

Grass field hockey is typically played on local government provided reserves with a tendency for the playing field to be shared in the summer season primarily with cricket and sometimes with athletics or diamond sports. Normally the council will provide and maintain the grass surface with the club marking the lines and providing the goals and other specialist equipment. Arrangements for field lighting vary significantly, with electricity consumption and some responsibility for lamp replacement usually resting with the club.

Whilst hockey has traditionally been regarded as a grassed field winter game there is a strong and accelerating demand for access to synthetic turf facilities for both training and competition. At present only 44% of clubs have access to a turf. Where they do exist there is a move to two seasons of competition, making hockey a year round sport.

All of the major regional population centres in WA (those of more than 25,000 people) already have a synthetic turf installation, with Bunbury and Geraldton having two turfs each, albeit a mixture of sand and wet surfaces. Collectively in WA there are eight turf installations in the regions and eight in metropolitan Perth. There are two additional turfs scheduled for installation in Perth in the near future, both of them in private boy's schools. This will see only two of the 10 metropolitan turfs located on council reserves, whilst all of the country turfs are on council reserves.

Generally, the 77 clubs who reported under the survey and audit process are satisfied with the number of grass fields available, although quality of surface ranked poorly (rating only second lowest to provision for spectators). Goals and line marking, typically the responsibility of the clubs, scored the highest satisfaction levels. In the metro area the number of grass fields used by the larger clubs is two to three whilst in the country the median number of grass fields marked and used is one.

Almost all clubs who have some access to turf are seeking access to additional turf time. Regardless of the surface being played on, it is the quality of the surface that ranks highest in the priority list of facilities. Good quality turf or well-mowed uniform grassed surfaces rate as the most important element in a club’s facility requirements. This is followed by field lighting and then by clubroom and changeroom amenities.

Many of the clubs surveyed and audited don't have the desired level of toilet, shower and changeroom provision on grass field reserves and few have separate facilities for first aid and umpires. This does not seem critical to the clubs, particularly those in the country and at lower levels. Any push for off-field amenities would seem to place social clubrooms high on the list as soon as basic toilet and changeroom facilities are achieved. The priorities for clubs would appear to be playing surface quality first and then social amenities immediately following.

Section 3 of Report 1 provides a schedule of desirable facility and amenity standards across
a range of competition levels. It's the level of competition that independently dictates the
requirement for varying facility standards.

In the metropolitan area, most of the synthetic turf facilities are located on school and university land. This contrasts with country installations which are all located on local government land. The installation of turfs in country areas has been driven by the clubs and associations with support from local councils. This is also the case for the Melville turf, whilst development the Rockingham turf was driven primarily by the council. All other metropolitan turfs have been established by clubs with support from their associated education institutions. The reality is that turf development to date has been largely in the absence of a guiding facility development strategy. It's noted that Hockey WA has a policy for financial
support for synthetic turf development, however, this does not specify geographical parameters.

Generally the club has contributed a minimum of one third of the capital cost in line with Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) guidelines. From a maintenance and operational perspective, in all instances it is the club to which the responsibility falls. This includes repair and replacement of not only the turf surface but also its sub-base, lighting, watering system and associated installations. These responsibilities are in line with the fact that the clubs are usually exclusive lessees or licensees of the facility in question.

In terms of current hockey distribution in the metro area the map on the following page
shows all club and participating school locations. The map on page 7 of the report shows that there's a relatively even spread of schools around clubs and only a few holes that suggest under-servicing.

It's noted that:

  • Kwinana club has no school programs operating in the immediate area to support it.
  • The northern spread beyond Wanneroo to Butler and Jindalee is attracting school participation and a club to service these schools will need to be identified or established.
  • There are schools in the Ellenbrook region that are participating in hockey but no local club to service them.
  • Cockburn has a strong school program and no local club to service it.
  • In the longer term (post-2020) growth in the Alkimos Eglinton region will require new facilities and the development of clubs to service that region.
  • Similarly, the future development of Keralup, east of Rockingham, will require new facilities and the development of clubs to service that region.
  • The hills area stretching from Mundaring to Kalamunda has a series of schools involved in hockey and a club with good facilities to service these schools will need to be identified or established.
  • Serpentine Jarrahdale is set for strong population growth over the next 20 years and new facilities and clubs will need to be established in this region.

In terms of understanding existing provision and planning for new facilities the following observations have been drawn:

  • Education institutions (both private schools and universities) are currently the principal location of turf facilities for Hockey WA conducted competitions in the metropolitan area.
  • Local government is the principal provider of grassed playing fields for Hockey WA conducted competitions in the metropolitan area and for association and club conducted competitions in regional areas.
  • Future development of hockey facilities in WA will require both synthetic turf and natural grass fields to be available with a growing demand for and reliance upon synthetic turf venues.
  • Wherever possible synthetic turf venues should be developed adjacent to existing natural grass facilities. They shouldn't be developed in isolation.
  • The number of synthetic turf installations should be expanded to accommodate and encourage growth in underserviced areas and at the same time remain limited (at least by way of Hockey WA support) to ensure oversupply does not occur leaving turf facilities underutilised and therefore unviable.
  • Synthetic turf development on local government reserves will fall largely to the hockey clubs to initiate. The CSRFF cost share model of one third from the State Government, one third from the local authority and one third from the club is a desirable outcome under current installation guidelines. Clubs should look to meet this challenge in any turf development program and the challenge of the ongoing maintenance of the facilities. Clubs should note that the level of support from local governments may differ due to established policies.
  • Synthetic turf development on school or university land will largely fall to the school or university to initiate and fund. There may be some government assistance available for school and university facility developments.
  • There is limited precedent for local government to contribute to school or university facilities, however, there are examples of joint provision and open access arrangements for community clubs and this should be more fully explored.
  • Hockey WA should continue to manage and control the Perth Hockey Stadium as the sport’s flagship venue and ensure that it is always the best presented, most current and technically equipped venue in the state.
  • Hockey WA should work with the Department for Planning and Infrastructure (DPI), DSR and the appropriately targeted LGAs to ensure adequate land allocation is provided for future hockey facilities.
  • Nearly all clubs are adequately catered for in terms of the number of grass fields at present but surface quality is a concern.
  • Local government should be encouraged to improve playing surface maintenance standards in line with the specification in Section 2.2 of Report 2.
  • Local government should be encouraged to provide for the basic suite of facilities as per the specification in Section 3.1 of Report 2. 
  • Most clubs are seeking access to additional turf time.
  • Playing surface quality, regardless of whether it is grass or synthetic turf, is the first priority in terms of facility standards. Ancillary amenities are all secondary to the playing surface.
  • Clubroom facilities attached to the turf are considered critical to long term viability and success of the resident clubs.
  • Hockey WA notes that local government authority philosophies differ, however, across the board, there is an established practice and preference to encourage provision of shared or joint use community facilities.
  • Hockey WA notes that both local government authorities and individual clubs need to consider the environmental issues associated with any request for additional grassed playing surfaces/pitches.

Hockey, like all outdoor sports, is subject to environmental conditions and with that the effects of climate change. Hockey WA is aware of and intends to address a range of climate change impacts through its strategic planning process including responses to:

  • Water shortages – promoting water-wise efficiency throughout the State.
  • Temperature increases – implementing strategies to accommodate higher temperature.
  • More extreme events – contingency planning for events and activities.
  • Sea level rise – developing policies for adaptation.
  • Reducing carbon footprint – adopting procedures across all functions to reduce consumption and waste.

Other than efforts to reduce overall consumption in day to day hockey operations through recycling, introducing energy efficiencies and reducing waste, the availability and cost of water is considered to be the biggest single issue for Hockey WA to address.

Water recycling on wet turf installations and other water reduction strategies are likely to become a necessity and mechanisms that assist all turf owners in installing a suitable system should be led by Hockey WA with the PHS installations. There is, however, an imperative to move away from wet turf surfaces and to encourage in the first instance greater use of hybrid surfaces with a view to the ultimate replacement of all wet surfaces with totally dry surfaces. This will require considerable research and commitment from both the hockey fraternity and the turf manufacturers. The availability of a turf that eliminates field watering, accommodates intensive use and replaces grass playing fields is seen as a means of ensuring hockey facilities can continue to be developed in the face of diminishing water supplies.

Whilst water availability will be a major challenge for the future of hockey in WA, another will be securing sufficient land for playing field development. Public open space provision for active sport is consistently under threat from developers offering inadequate and inappropriate land parcels, the requirements of the Bush Forever and conservation lobby to prevent clearing and development of bushland areas, and the use of Public Open Space (POS) for drainage and stormwater management.

Hockey WA must take an active a role, in conjunction with the Department of Sport and Recreation and the WA Sports Federation, to inform and influence the land allocation process for active sport. This will require submission and representation to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the various local government authorities and ultimately to the developers themselves.

In general terms Hockey WA should be lobbying and informing the land allocation decision makers of the need for one hockey field per 12,500 persons, generally allocated in banks of two fields and provision for a synthetic turf which will require exclusive land allocation for every 75,000 persons.

In summary the key issues affecting facility development are seen to be:

  • Population
  • Participation rate
  • Water availability
  • Sustainability

The analysis contained in Report 3 indicates that for metropolitan Perth between 17 and 20 turfs will be required to sustain the sport by 2025, potentially including one in Mundaring. Beyond that period, further installations will be required in the urban growth areas of Brookdale, Alkimos Eglinton, Keralup and Serpentine Jarrahdale.

Analysis within the report shows that a population of around 112,000 people in the catchment is likely to be sufficient to ensure financial viability of a club with a synthetic turf. This will allow adequate ongoing operation and maintenance funds and sufficient reserves for surface replacement as required. This figure is perceived to be very conservative acknowledging that country towns are achieving sustainable outcomes with around 25,000 in the catchment. Nonetheless, the larger figure will provide a good degree of long term financial comfort.

There is no recommendation in the report for future turf development in regional areas. These are, however, likely to occur as clubs, associations and country towns believe it is necessary to install a turf and will, against any assessment of sustainability, do so. In all probability, they, like Albany, Busselton, Kalgoorlie-Boulder and others, will be successful.

In the metropolitan area there is a need for a more detailed and controlled approach to ensure that Hockey WA contributes its resources and support to developing those facilities that will help grow hockey the most.

Report 3 shows a staged implementation strategy in five year increments to a fully developed model to 2025 which ultimately delivers as many as 19 turfs across the metro area. 

In addition to the observations and recommendations drawn in this executive summary for action by Hockey WA, there is a specific set of recommendations at the end of Report 3.

Resources

hockey WA - strategic facilities plan

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