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One down, two to go: $25 million Orange stadium project proceeds to next stage

Artist's impression of a grandstand at the stadium. Supplied.

By Peter Holmes

On Thursday morning the Western Regional Planning Panel (WRPP) announced it had unanimously approved the first stage of development for the $25 million stadium precinct on Forest Road.

Orange was gifted the largesse for the project in 2019 when former premier Gladys Berejiklian outsmarted herself by attempting to force the electorate to vote National. It declined, re-elected Phil Donato, and still got its stadium money.

Stages two and three will be addressed by future development applications.

According to the WRPP: "Staging of the scheme is outlined as follows:

Stage 1 - Bulk earthworks, tree clearing, building demolition and category 1 remediation;

Stage 2 - Athletics stadium and car parking; and

Stage 3 - Main stadium and residual works."

Orange mayor Jason Hamling described the stadium as "a huge project with major benefits for the community of Orange and the wider region.

“This is great news for the Orange community and I’m delighted we’ve reached another milestone.

“There are further planning approvals still to be assessed when it comes to the details of the stadium design and plans for the athletics track, but this is the important milestone. The panel has approved the overall concept of a sports precinct in a parklands setting."

Hamling said it was "important for the community to understand that the project has now been reviewed and approved by two external, independent bodies, Heritage NSW and the Planning Panel, and I’m pleased we’re now able to get on with the work".


Contracts for the first round of earth works have been put out to tender, pending this approval.

"It's expected a council meeting in March will be ready to award that contract, and work could begin soon after," Hamling said.

"The contract for the next round of tree removal has already been awarded pending today’s approval."

Council will now formally ask the Heritage Council for its permission to continue with tree removal.

In its report the WRPP said it had "benefit of a view of the site on 9 November 2021, a council assessment report dated 18 January 2022, a number of briefings from the council staff, numerous technical reports and a public meeting on 1 February 2022".

The panel acknowledged that at "the public meeting a solicitor representing New South Wales Health raised a number of procedural questions (as distinct from merit issues) over the contents of the council assessment report and specifically whether a submission that was received by the council after the close of submissions was addressed in the council offices report.

"For abundant caution the panel deferred the determination of the application for the council to address the submission from New South Wales Health.

"The panel now has the benefit of a comprehensive council assessment memorandum dated 7 February 2020 that address the reasons for the panel of deferral on 1 February 2022.

"The panel is satisfied that the council assessment memorandum satisfactorily addresses those matters raised in the submission from New South Wales Health.

"The panel is also mindful that the stage one application seeks approval for 'earthworks, tree clearing, building demolition and category one remediation' only.

"This approach is consistent with the concept development application provisions under s4.22(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, where a concept development application is described as 'a development application that sets out concept proposals for the development of a site, and for which detailed proposals for the site or for separate parts of the site are to be the subject of a subsequent development application or application'.

"The consent authority … need only consider the likely impact of the concept proposals (and any first stage of development included in the application) and does not need to consider the likely impact of the carrying out of development that may be the subject of subsequent development applications."

NSW Health, which is not against the stadium but has concerns about issues including traffic management and noise, declined to comment on the WRPP decision.

The stadium was originally planned for a site purchased by council on the Northern Distributor.

Community group Futuring Orange was among those that objected to the new site on Forest Road.


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