Previous updates and project history

May 2022 - New Centre to be built in Mordialloc

We are thrilled to announce that our new aquatic and leisure centre will be built adjacent to Jack Grut Reserve on Governor Road in Mordialloc.

This milestone announcement comes after an extensive site investigation program that commenced with over 180 potential locations across the central and southern areas of Kingston.

On the back of a thorough independent assessment of the shortlisted sites and valuable feedback from our community, we are now moving forward with finalising the land purchase and designing a great new facility for the community.

This once-in-a-generation project represents a major investment in the future health and wellbeing of the community and we are focused on developing a facility that is more sustainable, accessible and environmentally sensitive than ever before.

December 2021 - February 2022

Following the release of the findings, Council conducted three community information sessions to share the details of the site assessment process, and to answer your questions. View our January information session.

In addition, all questions submitted during the engagement period, and asked within the information sessions, can be found in our frequently asked questions in the document library.

We thank all those who have shared their thoughts. All feedback received will now be collated, and presented to Council in the coming weeks, to help guide decision making on this major project.

December 2021

Council has released the independent findings of the detailed site investigations of our three shortlisted locations.

Detailed, independent site assessments were undertaken on three sites, with the consultant’s report identifying one viable site.

The three sites were:

1. Governor Rd/Wells Rd, Mordialloc (private site) – most viable site

  • Site conditions are appropriate for an aquatic facility
  • Close to transport and walking/bike trails
  • No loss of open space
  • Good catchment population.

2. Walter Galt Reserve (former Don Tatnell Leisure Centre)

  • As the Reserve is a former landfill site, the landfill/contamination heavily restricts construction to the existing buildings footprint (the former Don Tatnell Leisure Centre and the Mordialloc Community Centre)
  • In order to accommodate a district-level facility at this site, it would require the demolition and relocation of Mordialloc Community Centre
  • As a former landfill site, it is likely that significant further issues would be uncovered during construction.

3. Edithvale Common, adjoining the existing bowls club and sports oval

  • Land poses a high flood risk, with limited mitigation opportunities
  • Negatively impact the surrounding environment and RAMSAR wetlands
  • Unlikely to receive the required support from Melbourne Water.

Find out more in the document library:

  • Download the pros and cons of each site
  • Read the FAQs
  • View a recording of our community information session.

If the top-ranked option is progressed, the privately owned site would need to be purchased by Council in order to proceed. To ensure the site is not sold to another buyer while we are still considering the options, Council has signed a Heads of Agreement with the property owner, which means Council is first in line to purchase the property, for an agreed value, if we decide to proceed.

September 2021

Since the adoption of our new Aquatic Facility Plan (see document library) to guide the way forward in building Kingston's new District Aquatic Centre, we have been busy behind the scenes planning for the next steps.

Site selection work underway

We know that the location of the new centre is vitally important to our community.

To make sure we find the best available site, Council cast the net wide and looked at well over 100 sites right across the central and southern suburbs of Kingston.

We need a site that is large enough to host a district-level facility, has good transport access and with limited impact on surrounding homes. Sites considered included a range of

Council/government owned sites, existing open space/parkland, privately owned sites and industrial land.

We have been refining the list of potential sites by ruling out locations that were too small, that took up a large amount of parkland/existing sporting facilities, were located too close to residential homes, or were subject to significant environmental constraints.

Following this shortlisting process, we are now finalising detailed site assessments on three sites: the site of the closed Don Tatnell Leisure Centre and two other sites.

To ensure we find a site that supports access for all and meets the current and future needs of our expanded new facility, we are conducting:

• Environmental impact reviews

• Soil and groundwater testing

• Constructability assessments, and

• Catchment and accessibility modelling.

This work will help us understand the opportunities and risks associated with locations and identify the best site for this important community facility.

We know the community is very keen to hear the outcome of the site selection assessments and we hope to be able to share further details within the next few months.

Project team

Aquatic and leisure facilities are highly complex and are rapidly evolving in the areas of technology and building practices. We are currently putting together a team of internal and external experts that will guide Council through this important community development.

Council has engaged specialist contractors to perform a soil and groundwater assessment in the eastern section of Walter Galt Reserve. The works are required to assess the suitability of the land for future uses. These works form part of the site assessment and selection phase of planning, for the new district level aquatic and leisure facility, to be built in Kingston’s central/south region.

Commencement: Monday 26 July

Hours of work: 8am - 4:30pm

Duration: Expected to take up to 5 days

The proposed works involve the drilling of up to 17 bore holes.

Works will require the use of drilling equipment, that will make some noise during operation, however contractors will aim to reduce the disruption to neighbours, community centre and park users, and school visitors where possible.

Walter Galt Reserve will remain open for public use during the works. A safe perimeter around the work zones will always be maintained. Once work is completed, all bores will be backfilled or securely capped.

At the April 2021 Ordinary Council Meeting, Council adopted the Aquatic Facility Plan which will guide the development of a new aquatics and leisure centre.

Under the Aquatic Facility Plan, a new ‘district level’ aquatic and leisure centre will be delivered in Kingston with expanded facilities to meet community needs for activities such as warm water exercise and improved learn to swim programming. It outlines a ‘two-facility model’ that incorporates Waves Leisure Centre as the regional (larger) level facility in the north of Kingston and the proposed new centre as the district level facility to be located in the central/south. It should be noted that the old Don Tatnell pool was regarded as a local level facility.

The community was consulted through the development of the Plan, including a six-week consultation process in 2020 with surveys and webinars, which saw 2300 people engage with the consultation page, 240 surveys completed and 73 people attending the two webinars held.

Consultation on the draft Aquatics Facility Plan closed on Friday 11 September. Thank you to everyone that participated.

We are now reviewing the feedback received and expect to present it to the newly elected Council for their consideration in early 2021.

You can sign up for project updates to stay informed as the project progresses.

Help shape the future of aquatics in Kingston
As part of setting a strong foundation for the planning of the new centre, we are currently undertaking consultation on step one - the draft Aquatics Facility Plan.

We'd like to know what you think and are seeking your input to help guide the future direction of Kingston's aquatic facilities.

If you missed our series of online community information sessions, you can access the most commonly asked questions from the webinars in the "Related Information" box to the right.

As part of the project to create a new aquatic and leisure centre for Kingston, a range of options are being developed for Councillors to consider before making any final decisions including:

  • Scope and cost of repairs required to re-open the Don Tatnell Leisure Centre, as set out at the June Council meeting
  • Options for the development of a leisure centre and additional co-located indoor basketball courts to be located in Kingston’s South Ward, as set out at the March Council meeting
  • Potential sites for a new leisure centre that would allow for expanded and improved facilities.

March - June 2020

Council officers have been working to set a strong foundation for the creation of a new aquatic centre for Kingston.

Action has included:

  • Review of existing facility (Waves and Don Tatnell) performance over time
  • Benchmarking other facilities in Victoria and across Australia
  • Interviewing other facilities that have been recently redeveloped to determine key learnings from other projects
  • Reviewing demographic forecasts for Kingston to determine future community needs
  • Research into current industry trends in the provision of aquatic and leisure services and facilities.

Kingston Councillors have called for a report into options for a new aquatic and leisure centre to explore:

  • the service needs for a new facility
  • potential locations, including the option to rebuild at the current site
  • funding required to build the new centre.

Following a review and benchmarking of existing facilities, a community needs assessment and industry trends analysis, a draft Aquatics Facilities Plan will be presented to Council.

Closure of Don Tatnell

In early 2020, serious structural issues were identified at the Don Tatnell Leisure Centre, making it unsafe for use. Due tot this, Don Tatnell Leisure Centre was closed in February 2020.

Council was saddened to close the centre, which has been much-loved by our community for more than 40 years. Council announced it would now plan a new aquatic and leisure facility to serve the community.

The closure came after Council detected issues at the centre during maintenance works on pipework buried deep under the pool.

The centre was temporarily closed, with hopes that repair works could see the facility re-opened.

Unfortunately the older age of the building, coupled with major structural issues caused by water leaks over time had left the building and pool foundations on very unstable ground.

Emergency works were undertaken to stabilise the building, however it could not re-open without major costs and significant construction works to make the building safe and compliant for the community. Initial estimates indicate this would cost at least $9 million, with a 10-month closure to simply return the building to a basic useable state – without providing any further improvement in services in the already aged centre.

Many memories have been made at Don Tatnell Leisure Centre - learning to swim, training for competitive swimming or attending the gym and fitness classes. As a hub for the community, it has sparked long-term connections and friendships, with some community members attending since its opening.

Council is now focusing on planning a new aquatic and leisure centre in Kingston to meet the current and future needs of our community.

Read the media release issued in February 2020.


The history of Don Tatnell dates back to one of Port Phillips’s worst storms in history, that of November 1934 and the destruction of Mordialloc’s historic sea baths.

In the early twentieth century, local bathers enjoyed swimming in the Mordialloc Baths which had been erected in 1884. But the storm of November 1934 saw huge waves strike the foreshore and the baths destroyed, with the damage tipped to cost £3,000.

With the community struggling with the impact of the Great Depression, Councillors could not find the money for the necessary repairs, and the baths were demolished.

A replacement concrete pool was suggested, but despite a small group campaigning for the creation of a new swimming venue, and several Councillors recognising the need, the post-World War II period saw Councillors focussed on higher-priority projects such as the construction of roads and drains. It was a long wait for the pool the community dreamed of.

Mordialloc Baths battered by stormy seas, 1934.

Opening Don Tatnell

In April 1979, Mordialloc Council accepted a tender for the design and construction of Don Tatnell at a cost of $620,000, with contributions from the Youth Centre and funds raised by public appeal.

Don Tatnell Leisure Centre opened on 2 December 1979 by the Mordialloc Council with a 25-metre swimming pool and four squash courts, named in the honour of City Engineer Don Tatnell.

Don Tatnell, City Engineer. Courtesy Leader Collection.

Its opening followed almost 20 years of visioning, planning, lobbying and discussion from parents, teenagers, community organisations and a Council-appointed advisory committee.

The 1979 opening of the facility was celebrated by the community and the 25-metre pool was a welcome relief to competitive swimmers and coaches in particular who had previously had to travel to inner suburban pools, or brave the conditions and jellyfish of Port Phillip Bay – where it was impossible to practice starts and turns. Parents were now reassured with a local facility for children to safely swim under supervision too.

Upgrades and refurbishments

In 1989, ten years after the facility opened, extensions were made to add a spa, steam room and sauna. Further improvements including a gymnasium were added in 1993.

Plan of centre refurbishment. Courtesy Kingston Collection.

In 2002, Kingston Council in partnership with SCOPE Victoria, converted the under-utilised squash courts into a two-level structure with rooms to facilitate SCOPE’s services and an additional gymnasium on the upper level.

Over the years, further capital improvements have been made including:

  • 2011: Office and gymnasium upgrades
  • 2012: Pool hall ceiling replacement, heating upgrades, filtration upgrades, entry refurbishment
  • 2014: Changerooms refurbishment
  • 2016: Spa upgrades
  • 2017: Sauna refurbishment

The most significant upgrade to the facility was the project which linked the Don Tatnell Leisure Centre and the Mordialloc Community Centre in 2015.

At the time of its closure, Don Tatnell had members who had been part of the Don Tatnell family for decades – and the news of its closure was sad for its staff, members and visitors.

View more detailed information about the history of Don Tatnell.

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