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Equestrian and exhibition centre for South Gippsland looks to clear final hurdles

A MULTI-MILLION dollar equestrian and exhibition centre in South Gippsland could finally happen.

The latest plan for the project – possibly to be at Stony Creek – is nearing completion.

The indoor horse arena and show space could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the region’s economy each year, with the potential to host major equestrian and cattle events, as well as agricultural shows, car shows, machinery field days, farmers’ markets and kelpie trials in all weather, year round.

Interest has even been expressed by indoor volleyball and archery clubs in the past, and drone racing has been touted as another possible use.

A previous study projected the centre would create 26 full-time equivalent jobs during construction, attract 16,000 visitors a year, generate between $465,000 and $685,000 in visitor expenditure in the shire annually, and create eight full-time ongoing jobs, including a manager.

Related businesses would benefit from major events, with other shows generating demand for accommodation, food, fuel and animal supplies such as stockfeed and bedding.

On behalf of South Gippsland Shire Council, consultants are now finalising inspections of potential sites and a business case for the proposed development, which could include an indoor arena, stables and undercover exhibition space.

Stony Creek Recreation Reserve has long been touted as the ideal site for such a facility, given it is home to the Stony Creek Racecourse.

However council is also investigating other sites, which may include the horse hub of Nyora.

Council declined to tell The Star if the latest study was considering other locations.

“Until the site investigations and business case document has been completed and the administrator briefed on the project, we are unable to provide any further details at this stage,” council’s Ian Murphy said.

“Further information will be provided once these steps are completed in August.”

Horse enthusiasts Janine Bullock of Meeniyan and Bev Shandley of Middle Tarwin are excited about the prospect of the centre finally progressing.

They are members of the Stony Creek Exhibition Centre Committee that conducted extensive research into the project, including the economic benefits to the region, and believe the centre could be built for under $2 million.

“We would just like council to push it forward,” Ms Shandley said.

“As an international equine judge, I see all these venues all the time and I just know the gold mine that is sitting there.”

Some equine events charge $100 entry and even with 250 entrants, that could bring in $25,000 to Stony Creek in entry fees alone.

Although frustrated by the project being delayed over the years, with numerous reports valued at up to $90,000, the ladies said, they are hopeful council will now advance the centre.

“It will be an indoor arena where you are not sitting out in 40 degree heat or when it’s rainy or windy in South Gippsland,” Ms Bullock said.

She has been agitating for the centre for 13 years and Ms Shandley for 10.

They have received interest from cattle clubs and judges willing to run handling classes at Stony Creek.

Ms Shandley said the council before the 2016 election supported the project, but that interest waned under the next council, which pushed for locations other than Stony Creek to be considered.

Ms Bullock said an architect’s report recommended Stony Creek as the preferred site, given its existing facilities and central location.

“People would come from East Gippsland way, it’s on the highway, and it has the infrastructure, the power and the water,” Ms Shandley said.

“There is 50 acres there that could be utilised towards the exhibition centre.”

 

Brad Lester

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=29672

Posted by on Jul 30 2019. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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