Skydiving in Stuart Park
Stuart Park in North Wollongong is one of our city's largest and most used outdoor spaces.
Stuart Park is Crown Land, which means it's owned by the NSW Government, but it's managed by Council.
Council has multiple plans that explain how Stuart Park is managed. These include:
- The Blue Mile Vision and Master Plan PDF, 1483.15 KB
- Wollongong City Foreshore Plan of Management PDF, 29883.58 KB.
Skydiving is one of the activities supported in management plans for Stuart Park, and the park has been used for commercial skydiving activities for more than 20 years.
The current skydiving activities in Stuart Park by Skydive the Beach take place under a licence that was granted by Council in 1999.
Skydive the Beach also has a lease to use the former Caretaker's Cottage in Stuart Park as a check-in facility. The cottage was built around 1930, and used by Council as a caretaker's residence and Park Ranger's office between the 1950s and 1989. Council voted in 1989 to demolish the cottage and replace it with a new building at the southern end of the park near the roundabout, but that did not go ahead. Instead, the cottage has been leased to Skydive the Beach since 2000. Multiple lease agreements have been made with Skydive the Beach since 2000, with rent increasing over time to be in line with commercial CBD rent.
In 2014, Skydive the Beach lodged a development application (DA-2014/306) to build a new administration building in Stuart Park. The DA was referred to the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP) - now renamed as the Wollongong Local Planning Panel (WLPP). As part of the assessment process, it was decided to relocate the site of the new building to a more appropriate part of the park. IHAP then recommended the DA for approval, which was given in November 2015.
In June 2015, a group of local residents who were concerned about the proposed new building started proceedings in the Land and Environment Court. The Court put a suspension in place, meaning no development could take place while the matter was considered. In February 2017, the Court finished their hearing and lifted the suspension.
Moving forward, Council will now seek two independent valuations to support new lease and licence negotiations with Skydive the Beach.
Both the elected Council and the NSW Department of Lands will consider the proposed lease and licence terms before negotiations start with Skydive the Beach. Once an agreement has been reached, it will be up to the elected Council to approve the new commercial arrangements, so they can be sent to the Minister for final approval.
If a new lease is approved while DA-2014/306 is still active, construction will be able to go ahead in line with the plans approved under that DA.
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