Old Northam pool site scoped out as potential 24 hour RV site

The old Northam pool site has been identified as the perfected location for a short stay self contained 24 hour RV and caravan site.

RV facilities throughout the Shire of Northam are a step closer to become reality following a unanimous council decision to allocate funds in future draft budgets.

The town of Northam has been without day site since the construction of the Bilya Koort Boodja Centre on Minson Avenue in 2017.

The Wheatbelt hub has not previously had a designated short stay site despite overnight campers using unauthorised locations.

In a report presented to council, Shire of Northam executive manager community services Ross Rayson said there had been a number of enquiries from individuals and caravan and camping associations about re-establishing a day site in the town.

He said recent community planning exercises undertaken within Wundowie and Bakers Hill had also identified the provision of formalised short stay caravan and camping as projects to be undertaken.

"In Wundowie and Bakers Hill, the communities saw the opportunity for short stay camping provision as a great opportunity for those communities to develop the tourism industry, and provide some support to the local businesses in those towns," the report read.

"Additionally, feedback has been received from visitors regarding the lack of free overnight camping or day site facilities in the Shire of Northam, and it has become clear that many travellers are staying within the Shire of Northam at various sites free of charge anyway.

"The information on these 'unauthorised' sites is often communicated between travellers."

A feasibility study undertaken by Anna Dixon Consulting and Slavin Architects identified the existing Bernard Park car park as a preferred day area site, the site of an old caravan park behind the Northam Olympic Swimming Pool Complex as the preferred 24 hour site and a reserve running parallel to Newman Street in Bakers Hill as the only potential site in the town for short stay campers.

The study recommended that the development of the different areas were to be staged, with the day site in Northam seen as the most cost effective and easiest to implement.

It advised that development of the Bakers Hill site would require additional work in relation to planning issues and was recommend to be undertaken as stage two.

The Northam day use area has been estimated to cost $83,000, the Northam short stay has been priced at $115,000, the Bakers Hill short stay at $95,000 and Wundowie caravan park to cost the local government $441,000.

Mr Rayson said the final decision on the development of the RV short stay area in Northam would be subject to the outcomes of consultation with the two already existing paid caravan parks within the Shire.

Councillor Carl Della moved the motion to accept the feasibility study report, allocate funds to the 2020/21 draft budget to undertake development of the RV day site in Northam and allocate funds in the 2021/22 draft budget to develop the Bakers Hill site.

Mr Della said he had seen first hand, travelling around the country, the flow on effects of short stay sites.

He said the sites would encourage people to stop in the Shire of Northam instead of taking the bypass.

The Shire of Northam chief executive has also been requested to Council on the viability of the short stay site in Northam once a comprehensive stakeholder consultation has been undertaken.