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Following rigorous initial construction and site testing, including geotechnical, engineering, design modifications and environmental investigations, an array of project interruptions have pushed back the Willoughby Leisure Centre upgrade.

A revised timeline and budget has been requested by Council and additional controls to improve Council’s administration of the project on the former municipal dump site will also be put in place.

Council understands that this poses a major inconvenience to residents, visitors and users of the facility. Willoughby City Council Mayor, Tanya Taylor said Council understands the news is disappointing for the community.

“Unfortunately there have been some significant challenges beyond Council’s control that have hampered progress.

“We value the community’s patience and understanding and are doing everything in our power to keep things moving forward so we can provide our community with an amazing facility, including having tight measures to scrutinise the management of the project” Mayor Taylor said.

The Willoughby Leisure Centre is located at 2 Small Street Willoughby, at the northern end of Bicentennial Reserve. Bicentennial Reserve is a former municipal waste facility that was operating and accepting waste from the 1930s through to 1985. The landfill was then covered with a significant amount of sandstone fill excavated from the construction of the Gore Hill Freeway.

Due to the site being a former landfill, Council undertook a range of testing and investigation in the immediate area of the site to determine underground conditions. Prior to issuing the construction tender, Council undertook due diligence including:

  • 2017: Scale of re-development reduced to mitigate risk
  • 2018: Geotechnical investigations and Quantity Surveyor costings
  • 2020: Hazardous material, soil assessment and chemical audit,  Quantity Surveyor costings
  • 2022: Existing pool pile foundation investigations undertaken (limited by existing structure on site).

Additionally, prior to construction tender, test pits were dug in the western and northern car parks to determine in-ground conditions, and no significant issues that would impact the construction process were found.

Further testing to in-ground conditions were undertaken under the pool hall deck, but this was limited to the periphery of the main pool shell, with only small sections of the deck accessible. Again, no significant issues that would impact the construction process were found.

Unanticipated underground conditions causing delays were encountered only after the demolition of the pool hall and pool shell. These conditions included asbestos, in-ground voids, boundary retaining walls, seismic activity impacts, and structural piles. Further details on these specific items can be found in the council report: https://www.willoughby.nsw.gov.au/Council/Council-meetings/General-Council-Meetings

Council currently provides monthly project updates to interested stakeholders through its website and is committed to keeping the community updated about this important project.

“A report will be sent to Council in February 2024 to outline a revised program of works and budget.

A framework for improved reporting on major infrastructure projects will also be presented to the February Council meeting. The framework aims to enhance transparency and accountability throughout major infrastructure projects, confidence among stakeholders in the decision-making and expenditure processes, timely identification and resolution of issues, prevent unnecessary cost overruns and ensure project teams have the capabilities to deliver.

“We know many people are looking forward to the Willoughby Leisure Centre upgrade. When issues are identified, it is important to rectify no matter what stage a project is at. This can avoid more costly issues further down the track,” Mayor Taylor said.

For further information and regular project updates: