North Manly Bowling Club, which has been closed since 31 August 2018 after proprietors Manly Leagues Club opted to discontinue the lease, is to be redeveloped. The dilapidated former bowls and live music venue, currently boarded-up to deter vandals, faces demolition and will be replaced with a sophisticated 3,000 square metre gymnasium with multiple sports facilities.
After the announcement, Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan declared, “This is a great outcome for this popular recreation precinct and will complement the surrounding uses of golf, touch football, cricket and soccer.
“There is a high demand for sporting facilities across the Northern Beaches and the new facility will support the growing local interest and participation in gymnastics.”
On 28 July 2020, Northern Beaches Council posted an invitation for Expressions of Interest to suggest a new lease of life for the aged recreation space, then a clubhouse and four greens in urgent need of an upgrade.
The offer suggested five possible uses for the site: soccer, gymnastics, basketball, tennis, and a combination of BMX/skateboarding/snowboarding facilties.
The deadline for submissions was 6 May 2021, however, the request came in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, when a series of mandatory health ‘lockdowns’ prevented people from playing sport or socialising.
It wasn’t until 24 August 2022 that Council announced the organisation they had chosen a few months earlier in April as a ‘preferred partner’ for the redevelopment of the North Manly Recreation Site – its working title.
According to Council’s website, the previous night at its monthly meeting, “Council endorsed a proposal to enter into a partnership with the Manly Warringah Gymnastics Club to transform the former North Manly Bowling Club site into a 3,000sqm indoor gymnastics centre.
“The partnership proposes a 30-year lease with the Manly Warringah Gymnastics Club (the club) who will redevelop the site, at no cost to ratepayers. The centre will include a large gymnastics space, trampoline, balance beam, high bar and vault areas, viewing mezzanine, café, sun deck and additional onsite parking.
“In addition to providing recreational gymnastics for toddlers through to seniors, the facility will be a Centre of Excellence for High-Performance gymnastics and trampoline and is designed to cater for all sports that include aerial movement such as snow sports, diving, skate, surfing, and acrobatics.”
The North Manly Recreation Site, on the corner of Pittwater and Kentwell Roads, is known geographically as District Park and backs onto Brookvale Creek, close to where it merges with Manly Creek at the northern end of Manly Lagoon.
During the torrential rains that characterised the 2021-22 La Niña summer, the bowling greens, and the neighbouring Greg Lodge Park and Nolan Reserve sports fields were inundated several times with stormwaters when the lagoon breached its banks.
Interview, Manly Warringah Gymnastics Club
Manly Observer spoke to Ian Hardy, CEO of Manly Warringah Gymnastics Club, about the exciting development of the new multi-use gymnasium. The club, which has over 2000 members and has functioned for over 40 years, currently operates from a rented building in Cromer.
“We were thrilled to learn we had been chosen,” he revealed. “I think it was about 16 years to the month from when I had my first meeting with Council to try and find a home for Manly Warringah Gymnastics. It’s involved seven different applications and six knock-backs to date.
“But finally, we get the news that we’re going to be able to build what we believe to be an amazing facility for gymnastics and the wider community. There are a lot of very happy people who have worked really hard to get this through.
“There is also an opportunity that we will be working with the Australian Institute of Sport for an aerial sport program. We already train athletes from winter sports. Diving NSW have been working with us to develop a dry land training project. We also see opportunities for our skaters, surfers, and BMX riders learning to do aerial sport.”
Will the interior of the premises primarily consist of one large gymnasium that could be subdivided, or several small sports arenas?
“Mainly one large gym… There might be some segregated space for other sports. We’ll include a high-performance sports medicine and physiotherapy section. We’re also looking at integrating some study rooms for athletes who spend a high amount of hours training, so they have a safe space to study and maintain their education.”
“We will be hosting the women’s Winter Wonderland Classic and women’s Artistic Gymnastics competition, and we will be hosting a round of NSW Men’s Gymnastic Grand Prix…
“We’ll also look at utilising the venue for social activities other than sport – we really want to engage more with children and young people in the region.
“The centre is designed to be a centre of excellence. We’ve got athletes who’ve qualified for world podium events. As for when it’s ready to use, we’re confident that we’ll have an 18-month build project from the moment we first dig into the ground to completion.”
Will they be able to host important sporting events that could be televised?
“No; what we’re developing is opportunities for the community to be involved in sport. We’re running a training facility as opposed to hosting a venue for major spectator sports.
“It’s going to be a real community hub.”
Manly Warringah Gymnastics Club
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