Wollongong council flags new car park, visitor centre for Stuart Park

Bedlam: Car spaces at Stuart Park filled up early on New Year's Day, creating headaches for residents and visitors. Picture: Sylvia Liber.
Bedlam: Car spaces at Stuart Park filled up early on New Year's Day, creating headaches for residents and visitors. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

Wollongong City Council is considering the construction of a new car park and visitor centre in the popular beachside tourist spot, Stuart Park, as it looks to ease parking pressures along the increasingly busy Wollongong foreshore.

And while there are no details about exactly where or what form the “multi-use car parking facility” will take, the council has flagged that it could include some “commercial activities, facilities for beach goers, visitor information and Park and Ride operations”.

In tender documents now open for submissions, the council is seeking a consultant to put together a Foreshore Parking Strategy for the car parks at all patrolled beaches between Stanwell Park and Windang.

The main focus of the strategy will be the Blue Mile and Wollongong foreshore, tender documents say, with consultants asked to tally up the capacity and usage of car parks and look for possible improvements.

They will also need to do a feasibility study on the new Stuart Park facility, producing drawings, plans and artist’s perspectives as well as strategic costings for the new car park and visitor centre.

“Given the high profile nature of Stuart Park, urban design will play a major role in the development of any possible additional multi-use parking facility designs,” the documents say.

The council has also flagged that it would consider “a range of property acquisition and sale scenarios” associated with the parking facility, and signalled the potential “rationalisation” of council land.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the parking facility was “just one of many possible ways” of solving foreshore parking woes.

“We’re not ruling anything out and we need to look at all the possibilities of how do we better manage this fantastic and very popular site,” he said. “It is a big project, but the operative word in this is ‘could’ – we would have to look at the impact something like this would have on Stuart Park.”

He acknowledged news of the facility could spark controversy, given the long-running and unresolved debate over the Skydive the Beach headquarters in the park.

“I think Stuart Park has possibly reached its capacity now,” he said. “The only place I can think of that might be suitable is to build a multi-storey car park on top of the existing car park opposite North Wollongong surf club.”

“But we need to do some thinking about the demand on this busy area, and how we can possibly share the load throughout our city’s beaches.”

The council has set aside a budget of $70,000 to develop the strategy, with submissions due by January 16. The final strategy report is due in April.