The ACT Government is looking to open up Stromlo Forest Park to commercial interests for the development of short-stay accommodation, park infrastructure and activities and management of the 1200 hectare site in the west of the ACT.
The Government has released a Market Sounding to consider interest from companies, non-profit organisations, and individuals that may wish to invest and/or contribute, individually or in partnership with the Territory, to the future development and growth of Stromlo Forest Park. This does not include the Stromlo Leisure Centre (aquatic centre) that is under construction, which will be the subject of a separate tender.
Stromlo Forest Park, with designated trails for off-road and on-road cyclists, runners, walkers, equestrian riders and others, is a world-class multi-use, recreational sporting facility available to both recreational and professional users. It attracts over 160,000 visitors a year, with a large proportion visiting from outside the ACT.
Documents point to overseas adventure recreation parks using a combination of private and public sector investment to develop their infrastructure, and say Stromlo would be able to benefit from the growing schools market by being able to offer quality, low-cost, tourist accommodation which can also be used by sporting and recreation users outside of the peak school periods.
They say that the ACT does not have enough budget/value (3.5 star) accommodation for school and sporting groups, other groups and families and that this is deterring tourists and driving business across the border.
The accommodation site proposed is located to the east of the Stromlo Leisure Centre on Dave McInnes Road, and would include cabins, a caravan park, camping site and amenity blocks, as well as a conference centre but no motel or hotel.
The Government is keen to see what other appropriate commercial ventures would enhance the park and add to the recreational facilities and activities already there, within the bounds of the Master Plan and vision.
The key elements of the Master Plan include the boulevard, a prominent north south access link across the park; a location for a temporary event village, with multi-purpose amphitheatre and finish bowl, gondola/chair lift to the summit, and opportunities for commercial enterprises; and short-stay accommodation.
It also contains active components such as BMX Race Course and jumping dirt park, criterium track extension, cross country running track, adventure and gravity sport activities; Stromlo Leisure Centre; an enclosed oval and district playing fields; links to existing facilities inside and outside the park; and enhanced trails for cyclists and equestrians.
The Master Plans calls for the character of the landscape to be maintained, and access to carparking and services.
The Sounding documents say that any potential development at Stromlo Forest Park will be through a licence agreement or sub-lease, depending on the nature of the development. Stromlo currently has a licensed cafe and bike hire and bike servicing business, with exclusive arrangements with a bike shuttle operator.
The Government also want to see if there is market interest in managing the park as a whole or parts of its operations. This could be part of a commercial investment proposal or as a stand-alone proposition. It would involve managing the park’s recreational activities, events and assets, and the land, including fuel reduction, fire trails, invasive plant and feral animal control, erosion and sediment management.
The Market Sounding closes on 8 August for Government to consider responses in September.
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