What is the master plan for Whitten Oval?
The Western Bulldogs Football Club has developed a master plan for an expanded Whitten Oval precinct – a revolutionary re-imagining and redevelopment of its traditional home, Victoria University Whitten Oval, and the broader Whitten Oval precinct. The Club recognises itself as part of a much larger community and holds the vision of developing a destination location for the Whitten Oval precinct with an emphasis on family values and sporting camaraderie, while respecting the heritage value of the precinct.
Internationally recognised architect, Populous, was engaged to work with the club to develop a master plan for the precinct.
A reimagined and redeveloped Whitten Oval precinct will become the centrepiece of Melbourne’s west, a home for an elite sporting club and a common place for the community.
An expanded Whitten Oval provides an opportunity to create a community hub with a mix of football, community, residential and retail facilities that will make the site a destination of the western suburbs.
What will the redevelopment include, and will it happen all at once?
The redevelopment will be undertaken in a number of stages. Stage 1 has already been completed. It included the newly refurbished AFLW changerooms under the John Gent Stand, and the installation of a brand-new scoreboard at the Geelong Road end, thanks to a $5 million grant from the Dan Andrews Labor government.
Stage 2 will include:
- - Slight reconfiguration and upgrade of the VU Whitten Oval playing surface.
- - An increase of the spectator capacity of the VU Whitten Oval.
- - Enhancement to the spectator amenities at the venue and improvement of the experience of people visiting the precinct.
- - Rebuilding of the Whitten Stand with new function facilities and dedicated community spaces for the programs run by the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation.
- - Upgrades to the administration and football department facilities and museum.
- - Broadcast quality lighting upgrade.
- - Creation of an open, environmentally-friendly and welcoming public space, including a renewed entry plaza, and running track.
- - The development of a secondary venue also in Footscray with training facilities for our four teams to train on, taking pressure off the ground.
The further stages contemplate a number of aspects including a range of food and beverage options, a broader health hub for medical, fitness and enhanced childcare services to provide more amenities for the local community and a strengthening of long-term partner, Victoria University’s presence on site. Also contemplated is the development of residential towers designed to take advantage of the proximity to West Footscray station and the growing demand for high-quality inner-city accommodation in West Footscray, along with greater pedestrian and bike connectivity throughout the precinct and its surrounds.
Are there works planned to occur on Cross Street?
The Western Bulldogs Football Club has been assigned a parcel of land by the State Government as the foundation piece of the redevelopment plan. The Club had expressed a desire to broaden its current footprint at Whitten Oval so it can create a unique family and community hub at the precinct for people of the west, and state of the art training facilities for its four elite football teams. All stakeholders agreed that only the Western Bulldogs could optimise the land in that area for its maximum community benefit.
To facilitate this additional footprint, Maribyrnong City Council, at the request of the State Government, is investigating a potential realignment of Cross Street. Any realignment of the road would be subject to a community consultation process.
When will redevelopment work start?
There are currently no fixed timelines for the start of the redevelopment. The Club will go through a process to attain the necessary funds to be able to begin works.
Will the community be consulted on the project?
The Club will undertake a thorough community consultation process to ensure local residents are informed of details of the project, and are given the opportunity to provide feedback.
Local business, like the community, will be engaged and encouraged to provide input into the development of the Whitten Oval Master Plan.
More information about the community consultation process will be communicated in the coming weeks.
How will the club fund the redevelopment?
The Club will raise a substantial amount of the required funds itself during the course of the project. The Victorian Government is working closely with the club to assist in the planning for a site that can deliver additional benefits for the community and is preparing a business case to look at options. The Club’s focus is to ensure that its intended use of the precinct allows for a self-sustaining financial model.
The government has already committed $5 million towards the abovementioned Stage 1 works relating to women’s football. It has also committed an extra $1 million for the Club to spend on more detailed plans for the entire master plan. The AFL has agreed to fund certain elements (including a lighting upgrade to broadcast quality) which optimise the utility of VU Whitten Oval as a model AFLW venue.
Could AFL games be played at VU Whitten Oval in the future?
While VU Whitten Oval’s principal football use will be for women’s and VFL games, the Club anticipates that its expanded capacity and quality could make the occasional fixturing of a heritage game in the men’s AFL premiership season an exciting option.
Does this impact the Club’s arrangement in Ballarat?
The Bulldogs have a strong partnership with the City of Ballarat and the State Government, and a commitment to play AFL matches at Mars Stadium until at least 2021. It also runs a number of community programs in Ballarat, has a shopfront in the heart of the city and has Ballarat as an important centre for the Club’s Next Generation Academy. The partnership with the region is a long-term strategic focus for the Club, as it aims to grow its footprint in the western corridor of Victoria. The Club intends to build on this partnership into the future, which is independent of the possibility that the Bulldogs could play an AFL game for premiership points at VU Whitten Oval.