Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre Redevelopment Project

The redeveloped Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre opened on Monday 13 November 2023, offering swimming, group exercise, gym workouts and more.

The Darebin community now has a new state-of-the-art aquatic and leisure centre to enjoy with the redevelopment of the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

An action as part of the Council Plan 2017—2021, the new facility supports our goal to expand opportunities for participation and social connection through sport, physical activity and other leisure activities.

The Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre (also to be known as "NARC") offers indoor and outdoor heated pools, an 800 square metre gymnasium, group fitness rooms, café, creche, outdoor fitness training area, and ample parking for your bike, scooter or car, including electric vehicle charging stations.

The facility has been awarded a "6 Star Green Star" for the design, reflecting a world leadership level in sustainable design and is the highest rating possible under the Green Building Council of Australia’s rating system. We are also targeting a "6 Star Green Star – As Built" rating for this facility.

All components of the facility will be fully accessible, including ramps into all pools and a lift to the first floor. The facility also includes change rooms with dedicated spaces for accessibility – including a Changing Places room, gender neutral, and school groups changing areas. We received funding from the State Government to contribute to our Changing Places facility.

The Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Project is supported by the Victorian Government.

Sign up and become a member of the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre

Find out more about Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre by reading the frequently asked questions below, or by visiting the Darebin City Council YouTube channel to watch our project update videos.

Visit the NARC playlist on YouTube

Questions and answers

Why did we redevelop Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre?

The Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre had reached its end-of-life and was determined through the Council Plan 2017—2021 to be redeveloped, to meet the needs of our growing community, well into the future.

The new facility offers indoor and outdoor pools, as well as increased opportunities to participate in health and wellbeing activities, through larger and additional programming spaces and an added warm water pool for exercise and rehabilitation.

How much are we spending?

We are investing $63.5 million to ensure the redeveloped centre will continue to service the community for the next 50 years. This includes design, demolition, construction and landscaping.

With the increased inflation and construction costs over the last couple of years, this investment represents value for money for a project of this size.

Who are the designers and builders for the project?

The design for the new centre has been shaped by community consultation. You can read about the history of this project and how community consultation was undertaken by visiting the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre Your Say page.

We have also consulted significantly with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation throughout the development of the design of the facility and the landscaping. Consultation remains ongoing throughout the project to achieve integrated outcomes.

The design was completed by Warren and Mahoney Architects Australia. The construction contract was awarded to Kane Construction Pty Ltd.

How sustainable will the new centre be?

We are targeting a "6 Star Green Star-As Built" rating for this facility. Darebin has already been awarded a "6 Star Green Star Design review" certification, reflecting a world leadership level in sustainable design. This is the highest rating possible under the Green Building Council of Australia’s rating system.

Some of the sustainable initiatives incorporated into the project include:

  • carbon neutral building in operation with 100% green power
  • rainwater harvesting for swimming pool and landscaping
  • grey water use for toilet flushing
  • double glazed windows
  • electric heating, cooling and hot water systems using source heat pumps
  • airtight façades (tested upon completion)
  • timber structure (Forest Stewardship Council) to the pool hall
  • heat recovery ventilation to reuse otherwise wasted heat
  • solar panels to be installed on the roof, with battery storage
  • predominately native landscaping to reduce water use and improve biodiversity
  • energy efficient fixtures, fittings and lighting
  • approximately 65 bicycle parks
  • LEDs throughout with daylight dimming

There are currently 247 trees onsite with planned retention of 182 trees. No high retention value trees are affected by the proposed design.

What facilities will the aquatic areas have?

  • indoor 8 lane 25m pool
  • indoor learn to swim and leisure pool
  • ramp entries to pools
  • indoor aquatic playground
  • indoor warm water pool with integrated spa
  • steam and sauna facilities
  • outdoor 10 lane 50m pool
  • outdoor nature based water play

What fitness facilities will there be?

  • 800 metre square gym
  • outdoor fitness training area
  • 4 group fitness and wellness rooms
  • private consult rooms for allied health services (such as physiotherapy)

What change room facilities will there be?

The facility will include:

  • male and female change rooms
  • change village with:
    • a range of individual gender neutral and family change cubicles
    • a changing places facility
    • accessible change rooms
  • separate dry change rooms in the health and wellness area
  • separate group and school change facilities

Formal consultation with culturally and faith diverse groups has been undertaken as part of the redesign and the needs and concerns of participants have been responded to.

What other features will the centre have?

  • café
  • creche
  • multi purpose room
  • outdoor landscaped spectator area for carnivals, events and relaxation events
  • new entry and exit to car park
  • electric vehicle charging stations
  • increased bicycle parking
  • pick up and drop off zones

Who will the centre benefit?

The centre has been designed to service the whole Darebin community with specific focus on ensuring it is fit-for-purpose, so the diverse community feels welcome and included.

It will be easily accessible by public transport and the local road and bike path network.

The centre has been designed to be used by the local Darebin and wider community. It will be available for local and district school carnivals and could host swimming and water polo competitions.

The centre will be used by young babies right through to the elderly, with targeted programming in pools and wellness spaces, to keep the community healthy, strong and connected.

The warm water pool will be an additional space for people with living with a disability or people in rehabilitation programs. The consulting suites will add additional health and wellbeing benefits to the local community. The facility has been designed through universal design principles for full accessibility throughout.

Who will manage the centre?

After a competitive tender process, we have appointed Clublinks as operator of the centre for an initial contract period of just over 3 years, with options to extend that contract.

Clublinks also manages Narrandjeri Stadium, Darebin Community Sports Stadium, Bundoora Park Public Golf Course and Northcote Public Golf Course.