Phase one

The conversation

The City of Melbourne is redeveloping the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre (previously known as the Kensington Community Recreation Centre).

The first phase of community consultation took place from 29 January to 1 March 2019. During this phase we asked the community for their thoughts and ideas for the proposed redevelopment of the centre.

The feedback was used to develop the concept design, which was available for consultation in September 2019.

Gathering insights

Community consultation during phase one included:

  • an online survey
  • several face-to-face pop-up sessions
  • direct emails to stakeholders.

Throughout the consultations we received more than 420 responses.

What we heard

The consultation showed the community would like:

  • more recreation and fitness programs
  • a larger gym, more group fitness rooms, additional multi-purpose courts, and a café
  • more flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of community uses
  • improvements to the pool, including more lanes and water play features for children
  • environmentally sustainable design
  • better integration with JJ Holland Park
  • improvements to the overall building condition, including change rooms.

Facilities or services community would like to see:

Next steps

The feedback gathered has been used to guide the Kensington Community Recreation Centre Concept Design.

Follow the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre page to receive email updates about this project.

Phase two

The conversation

Phase two of community consultation took place from 2 September to 4 October 2019.

During this phase, we asked the community for feedback on the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre concept design.

The concept design highlights features that respond to feedback we heard during the first phase of consultation, with more flexible spaces, additional multipurpose courts and an improved pool.

Gathering insights

A range of engagement opportunities took place during phase two. People were invited to provide feedback by:

  • filling in a survey online
  • attending one of two information sessions
  • speaking with members of the project team at one of three drop in sessions.

Feedback was also gathered at two community meetings with the Kensington Community Network and the Kensington Association. Separate consultation with children and young people was facilitated through sessions with the Kensington Community Children’s Cooperative and the Venny and The Drum.

Who we reached


Website views

Throughout the engagement period.


People responded

146 survey responses, 30 comments at information sessions.


Social media views

15,000 on Facebook, 60,000 on Instagram.


Postcards distributed

To households and businesses in the area.

What we heard

Overall the responses showed a strong understanding of the need and support for the centre to be redeveloped. Most respondents gave the new concept design a 3, 4 or 5 score out of a total of 5 indicating a high level of support for the design.

Many respondents described particular programs, building features or aspects about the character of the facility. This included:

  • The importance of sustainability features in the new facility.
  • Support for provision of a café while some suggested a different location in the centre.
  • Access to the facility, including car parking and bus drop off areas.
  • Some programs or services that are not provided were requested, including a separate warm water pool, sauna and spa.
  • The importance of good indoor/outdoor design and the interface with the park.

More detailed feedback has been captured under the following themes:

  • Overall redevelopment of the pool area was supported.
  • Suggestions for more than one additional lane and separate lanes for fast/slow swimmers.
  • Requests for extension of pool to 50 metres.
  • Requests for pool to be maintained at a warm temperature.
  • Some respondents requested a separate warm water pool to support physical therapy, with a few asking for a spa and sauna.
  • A few respondents described that they liked the indoor/outdoor potential at the current pool and saw this as a family focused space.
  • Support for provision of water play, with comments reflecting the number of young families in the area and the facility as a destination for the local community.
  • Children requested slides of different sizes, opportunities to climb and jump into the water, and to provide squirters and sinkers at the new pool.
  • Requests for a major water play park including large water slides and other facilities.
  • Pool users made a few comments about adequate space in wet area change rooms for showers, and suggestions for hair dryers and heated floors.
  • Other change room comments included provision of child sized amenities, separate school group facilities, more family change rooms and well ventilated change rooms.
  • One respondent requested retaining the decorative eels above the pool in the new facility.
  • Comments about the importance of a larger gym, with well-resourced equipment, mirrors and also including space for stretching.
  • A few respondents queried if a 24/7 access gym would be provided.
  • Requests for an outdoor gym area, as this is currently provided.
  • A few respondents were positive about the location overlooking the park, although some concerns the upstairs location could make the gym warmer and limit the number of machine the space could support.
  • Many respondents were very supportive of the provision of three multi-purpose courts.
  • Responses included the high demand for netball and basketball, with a few comments about other sports including indoor hockey, table tennis and badminton.
  • Comments that adjustable height rings would support younger children’s competitions and provision of nets between courts would reduce issues with balls going into adjacent games.
  • Storage to facilitate multi- purpose use was considered important.
  • A number of respondents raised concern that futsal may not be provided as an activity in the multi-purpose courts.
  • A few respondents who currently use the facility raised questions about access to book courts in the future, particularly for smaller local community groups.
  • There was interest and support for the provision of a café at the centre.
  • Some respondents questioned the location, indicating it could be better located with access to the park as well as serving the recreation centre.
  • The need for access to the café without leaving the aquatic area was raised.
  • One respondent suggested placing café tables along the Altona Street edge of the facility.
  • Support for multi-purpose rooms and the range of different programs, especially group class activities.
  • Requests for ways to provide more ‘atmosphere’ in the rooms, particularly for the health and wellness activities such as yoga.
  • Size of rooms is important to support the number of participants for activities, as is the size and location of storage areas.
  • Mirrors for technique correction were also useful.
  • One person requested windows that could be opened in the room rather than reliance on air conditioning.
  • Good acoustic treatment throughout the centre was raised to support multi-purpose use.
  • A request was made to enable screening for one court to allow a women’s only basketball program to continue to be run in a culturally appropriate way.

Respondents asked about:

  • provision of programs in the multi-purpose courts and rooms
  • future fees for programs and the hope that they would remain affordable
  • different payment options
  • relocation of the toy library.

New program suggestions included:

  • provision of artistic and creative activities
  • sport and dance for different cultures and genders
  • Aboriginal dance
  • Tai Chi
  • creative dance for kids
  • African dance.

Suggestions for:

  • a stage for performances
  • a mini library or reading area
  • a communal or social area
  • occasional childcare services
  • allied health services.
  • Concern about the capacity of car parking in the local area, particularly at peak times.
  • Suggestions that an upgraded facility would increase demand on car parking.
  • Comments included the need for safe access into the centre by children or young people and the need for sheltered waiting areas for pick up.
  • Preference for the drop off/pick up activity to be provided in Altona Street although congestion at busy times was also raised.
  • A number of respondents were supportive that no additional parking was proposed.
  • Support for provision of more bike racks, preferably in a secure or well supervised location.
  • Intuitive and good pedestrian links to the centre were important.
  • Enquiries about retaining the current outdoor space, and suggestions to increase outdoor exercise.
  • An outdoor basketball court or half court was the most popular of suggestion for outdoor facilities.
  • Respondents highlighted they would like an outdoor grassed area for barbeques and picnics, and somewhere children can play.
  • The current potential to open the centre walls to the outside space during good weather was raised by a few people.
  • Strong support for energy efficient sustainable design and use initiatives in the centre.
  • Comments about importance of the green wall being well designed and investigating use of biochar as a building material.
  • Provision of more drink fountains throughout the centre was requested.
  • A charging station for electric bikes and scooters was suggested and “real time” details of adjacent public transport displayed in the foyer.
  • Adequate shade outside the building was raised and protection of eucalyptus adjacent to the centre.
  • A number of respondents described that they would like to see a good landscape interface with Holland Park.
  • A two lane running track was suggested as an addition for the adjacent synthetic oval.
  • Other suggestions for outside the centre included a basketball ring and climbing walls.

Consultation with children

Feedback from children was facilitated by Kensington Community Children’s Cooperative (KCCC) staff.

Children provided feedback with drawings, constructions and comments. A group of 5 year old children presented the feedback to the project team.

Ideas and suggestions raised by the children

Consultation with young people

A series of pop-up interviews and small group discussions at a ‘block party,’ hosted by The Venny and Drum Youth services supported engagement with local young people and families from the Kensington estate in early October 2019.


Design changes

We received considerable feedback from the community on the proposed design, much of which has been incorporated into the working design that was presented to Council on 1 December 2020.

Most notably, in response to community feedback, we have re-orientated the main entrance from Kensington Road to face JJ Holland Park. This change helps address safety concerns raised by some community members about the Kensington Road entrance and also means the café will now be located park-side and accessible to the broader community.

Other elements that have also been included in response to community feedback include:

  • An expansion of the swimming pool from six lanes to eight lanes to enable more lanes for swimming, water exercise, including ramp access.
  • An indoor water play area with spouts and fountains available all year round.
  • An increased number of multi-purpose courts from one court to three courts with features to support a range of sports and user needs.
  • An expanded gym, five times the size of the current offering.
  • Multipurpose rooms to cater to wide range of activities and community needs.
  • Significant environmental sustainable features which will improve the overall performance and impact of the facility.
  • Upgraded change facilities including family change rooms and accessible adult change facility.

Warm water pool

The additional space needed to provide a warm water pool would require a substantial increase to the size of the building, which would incur significant cost, and would reduce the outdoor passive space available. It is anticipated that with the increased size of the 25m pool and new plant, the pool will better accommodate programs and lap swimming, and will have a more consistent water temperature. This will improve the aquatic experience for people doing a variety of activities.

Design responses

Read a detailed summary of key community feedback and our design changes.

Next steps

The feedback from the community engagement has been analysed and reviewed by the project team. It has provided timely input to the finalisation of the schematic design, where a number of facility elements were further assessed and edited.

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Read the engagement summary

Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre