Home in sight for equestrian

LAKE Boga is set to become home to an equestrian precinct, following a council decision to endorse the establishment of the facility at the local sporting complex.

Swan Hill Rural City Council voted unanimously in support of a proposal to establish an equestrian facility at the Lake Boga Sporting Complex at last month's ordinary meeting.

The decision ends nearly three years of uncertainty for the Swan Hill Pony Club, which was told in 2015 their Feldtmann Lane home would be rezoned to a residential area, and the club would need to relocate.

Three equestrian clubs are set to operate out of the facility, with the Lake Boga Riding Club and Northern Rivers Equestrian Club also wanting to utilise the space.

The pony clubs will receive two years of free rent, to allow them to get the facility up and running.

Swan Hill Pony Club secretary Corina Farrar said there were still a number of details to be worked out, but the club welcomed the decision on the location.

"It's good, there was a lot of uncertainty there for quite a while," she said yesterday.

"There's still a lot of work ahead, with details to be worked out with council and we're still up in the air a bit as to when we get to move, but we will know more after a meeting with council tonight.

"So yeah, we're still up in the air, but we have a ground for when we start moving."

Ms Farrar said there was plenty of work to be done to make the location suitable for the clubs.

"There is a lot of cleaning up to do, asphalt needs to be removed...it needs to be closed in so it's safe and horses don't get out and run into the road," she said.

"It could be another 12 months before we get to use the ground."

She also welcomed the arrangement to share the location with other equestrian clubs.

"It'll be good, it will hopefully keep the costs down a bit through shared expenses," she said.

Ms Farrar said membership of the club, like many in the region had dropped off a little as farmers did it tough amid dry conditions, and local families found themselves tightening their belts, but added she hoped the new location would spark interest in the local community.

"It's not just the pony club, all sports are dropping off a little bit at the moment, people are finding it hard with money and with horses you don't just buy a uniform, there are added expenses," she said.

"But, we can only think positively and go from there."

Director development and planning Heather Green said the club's Swan Hill location was rezoned as part of the south-west precinct development project from public park and recreation zone to general residential zone.

"After a number of sites being considered and not proving suitable, council officers and pony club members investigated the Lake Boga Sporting Club Complex site," Ms Green said, adding the site was "suitable" and presents "many advantages".

"The site is under committee of management of the crown land and therefore the infrastructure belongs to council and has not been utilised for a number of years," Ms Green said.

"The complex comprises a sporting oval with irrigation, a clubhouse, a toilet block, an access road and disused tennis court.

"Tennis has not been played there for approximately 20 years and the sporting oval has not been used for two years since the decision to consolidate junior and adult football and cricket training and games at the Lake Boga Recreation Reserve."

Ms Green said both tennis courts were "overgrown and past repair".

A community consultation meeting was held at the Lake Boga Community Centre on December 4, 2018 and attended by 35 people.

A large majority of people in attendance were in favour of developing an equestrian centre at the Lake Boga Sporting Complex.

"Northern Rivers Equestrian Club and Lake Boga Boga Riding Club are interested in sharing the grounds and have been working in partnership with the Swan Hill Pony Club to plan and design the new facilities," Ms Green said. "Pioneer Country Carriage Drivers have also expressed interest in using the premises to hold special events, the renovation of the premises will also benefit the annual dog show."

Ms Green said establishing an equestrian centre in Lake Boga, within 15 minutes drive from Swan Hill, would contribute to the liveability of the region and be an additional factor to attract new residents as well as service the residents of the southern part of the municipality.

Council has agreed to assist with the cost of relocation, with the clubs also contributing money in-kind.

Councillors voted to allocate a budget of $50,550 from the land acquisition reserve to commence essential works for the establishment of the Lake Boga Equestrian Centre.

Followed by $7128 for stage two and $4021 for stage three, on condition of the facility being maintained and utilised.