What is Imagine Windy Hill?

    Facing inevitable change an agreed vision represents an incredible opportunity to “bring back the kudos” (credit Essendon Croquet Club) to Windy Hill and make it a place the community continues to be proud of. Windy Hill is at the heart of Moonee Valley and Imagine Windy Hill (credit Essendon Bowls Club) is a visioning project to determine its long-term future. The site has a significant role to play in realising Council’s MV2040 vision of “a healthy city” and Plan Melbourne’s 20 minute neighbourhood. The aim is to create a single longterm vision for Windy Hill with input from current user groups and the community guiding the future of this space towards 2040.This project aims to create a single long-term vision for Windy Hill (also known as Essendon Recreation Reserve) in Essendon that all parties have contributed to and with input from the community. The vision will guide future development of the reserve. Before planning to make any improvements to the facilities, Council wants to understand what the priorities are and ensure that users of the reserve and the community in general share the same ideas for the future of the Windy Hill precinct.

    Why is Council doing this work?

    he opportunity to imagine Windy Hill as it might be in the future, contemplating who the users might be and what it should look like, has been prompted by: 

    The changed use of Windy Hill, with Essendon Football Club moving its training base to Tullamarine, noting they hold a lease for the majority of the reserve until 2031. 

    The facilities being tired and the community demanding more, high quality public spaces. High quality facilities should be inclusive for all with good access, but also fit for purpose. The emergence and growth of women’s sport and Moonee Valley’s growing population are also contributing to this change. 

    The need to deliver on a key part of Council’s long term vision - ensuring our community has access to diverse sports and recreation opportunities in their local area. The vision specifically identifies activating Windy Hill for public use and also a $20M+ commitment to find a community hub in Essendon. 

    It is recognised having an agreed vision for the precinct represents a strong advocacy opportunity if we as a community of stakeholders have a united front.

    Why is this vision long term? What is happening in the short term?

    The Essendon Football Club has a lease with Council to use and manage the facilities at Windy Hill until 2031 so in the short term the responsibility to improve the site must be considered with this lease. Council is the Committee of Management on this land and holds the lease agreement with the Essendon Football Club. The Essendon Football Club and their sub-tenants (Essendon Bowls Club and Essendon Cricket Club) along with the Essendon Croquet Club have agreed to work with Council to develop a long-term plan for the space. If an agreed vision is reached with stakeholder and community input, all parties will then seek to develop a plan to realise the vision as quickly as feasible. No major works are planned in the short term until the long-term plan is known. 

    I don't want Windy Hill to change - it's an icon.

    There are many factors to be considered with regard to the future of Windy Hill including how it continues to meet the needs of future generations. We will be consulting with the community, local businesses and schools, and users of Windy Hill in order to guide what the reserve looks like in the future. It is important to note, however, that there is a Crown Grant on the site which locks the use of the land for the recreation of the people, in other words for similar uses to what’s been there in the past. 

    What about the Essendon Football Club?

    The Essendon Football Club has a lease with Council to use and manage the facilities until 2031.

    In 2013, the club moved its training base to its new facilities at the Tullamarine. The senior squad and the club administration are based at this location. The Windy Hill oval is now used for the VFL men’s and women’s matches, Essendon District Football League (EDFL) umpire training and Essendon Cricket Club training and matches. The Essendon Football Club continues to run the Windy Hill Social Club facility, including the Windy Hill Venue and the Windy Hill Fitness Centre (managed by Belgravia Leisure). The Club also has agreements with Essendon Bowls Club, the EDFL and the Essendon Cricket Club. 

    What ideas could be included in the plan for the future?

    We are planning to explore a number of sports and recreation opportunities at this location, and will be asking the question of the community in early 2019. Broadening community access and use of the site is something we will explore.

    At this early stage of the project all ideas are being considered, no matter how bold!  There are many possibilities and it is exciting to think about what is needed in the area, and how Windy Hill can continue to be a significant sport and recreation venue that the whole community is proud of.

    The project will also consider the areas surrounding Windy Hill, including connections with Essendon Junction. 

    What are the timelines for any redevelopment?

    This is a long-term project and we are at the very early stages. The visionary work will be completed in October 2019. Further work may be considered after this project, including:

    1.  Developing an advocacy plan seeking future partners to realise the vision

    2.  Developing an improvement plan to realise the vision.

    This process is expected to take many years based on the existing arrangements unless a new plan is agreed.

    What else is Council planning for in this precinct?

    We are also considering opportunities to cater to future community needs within the precinct surrounding Windy Hill. Central to our planning for the Windy Hill precinct is the 20-minute neighbourhood which is a key part of our MV2040 Strategy. The aim is for all neighbourhoods to be designed around catering to residents’ everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle, or public transport ride from home. Ways to make Essendon a 20-minute neighbourhood will be considered as part of the vision for Windy Hill. 

    Partnerships with the Essendon Primary School will be explored.

    What are some of the main issues and opportunities that will be considered as part of imagining Windy Hill?

    The creation of a vision for the future of Windy Hill will be guided by the community and users of the reserve. It is likely that the following matters will be raised for consideration:

    ·  Ageing facilities at the reserve and the need to improve, redevelop or consolidate facilities.

    ·  Future facility needs of the user groups.

    ·  The concept of a multipurpose community building (hub).

    ·  Other equipment and facilities to support recreational use by the public.

    ·  Car parking and pedestrian connections into and around the site.

    ·  Opening up the reserve.

    ·  Connections to surrounding key sites, such as schools, public transport and the Essendon Junction.

    ·  Landscaping and beautification.

    What is the draft period of public consultation?

    We've heard your ideas and now we've developed a draft vision for the future of Windy Hill. Tell us if you think your ideas have been reflected and give us your thoughts on the draft vision. The draft vision will be considered by all the key stakeholders including Essendon Football Club and then considered by Council in October.