One of the hottest places on earth is a step closer to hosting year-round snow and skiing after Penrith Council last night (May 24, 2021) endorsed the planning proposal to build a winter sporting facility.
Winter Sports World site owner and developer Peter Magnisalis said he was excited to work collaboratively with the council and the NSW Planning Department on finalising plans for Australia’s first indoor snow resort and alpine winter attraction.
The development proposal was supported in principle by councillors, who voted in favour of six amendments to the plan.
Mr Magnisalis praised Penrith Council for supporting one of the largest tourism developments in the area’s history.
``Penrith has billed itself as the `Adventure Capital’. It’s great to see that the council has embraced that adventure. It’s going to be a thrilling – and cool – ride.’’
Using real snow, the $300 million development proposed:
- A 300m advanced run for experienced athletes and a dedicated learn to ski run
- Olympic sized ice rink
- Competition venue for figure, ice hockey, speed skating & alpine skiing
- Ice climbing for mountaineer training
- 4.5-star 120-room hotel
- Restaurant and cafes with snow views
- Fine dining revolving restaurant
Currently a 2.35ha horse paddock located within the vibrant Riverlink Tourism Precinct on the banks of the Nepean River, the site would also include a Winter Wonderland snow play area, conference and function rooms.
Mr Magnisalis said Winter Sports World would generate 900 new ongoing tourism jobs after construction and inject $80 million a year into the local economy with 250,000 visitors annually.
``Not only will this be a major new tourist attraction for Western Sydney right on the doorstep to a new international airport it will be the first indoor snow resort and alpine winter attraction in Australia,’’ he said.
In the immediate and long-term, Winter Sports World would:
- Help Penrith Council meets its goal to double visitation and tourism revenue by 2025
- Bolster Penrith as an attractive leisure and tourism destination
- Boost confidence in Western Sydney tourism and business
- Attract new ventures to the region
- Raise the profile of Penrith and Western Sydney domestically and globally
- Attract international elite snow and ice athletes and provide a training venue for nine
Olympic sports (alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snow board, figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating, curling with the possibility of also catering for cross country and biathlon)
However, Mr Magnisalis wanted the development to be accessible and affordable to all.
While Australia had about 1 million regular skiers, of which about 700,000 were in Sydney, another 4.5 million people did not ski because they cannot access the snow, he said.
``It's just too hard for them to go there or too expensive so they haven't been introduced to it.
``I want people who have never skied to come here to learn. I want school and community groups to come here.
``We will have perfect snow under perfect skies all year round, and Winter Sports World will be the coolest place to hang out on those scorching forty-degree summer days in Penrith.’’
He envisaged that Winter Sports World would become a feeder to established outdoor ski fields like Thredbo and Perisher, rather than a competitor.
Mr Magnisalis began developing the idea for Winter Sports World seven years ago and undertook extensive research with architect Tone Wheeler including visiting several snow centres around the world before finalising plans.
The carbon-neutral design of the development by renowned eco-friendly architecture practice Environa Studio would set new environmental building benchmarks with features such as most advanced technology for capturing and reuse of free heat, roof solar system for electrical energy needs, insulation systems, non-toxic cooling and roof water harvesting for snow making.
It would also attract visitors to Penrith to experience Australia’s freshest emerging tourist destination just 9km from the country’s newest international airport at Badgerys Creek, which was due to open in 2026.
``This is not a local thing. This is a national offering that will attract cashed-up elite sports people and leisure seekers from around the world,’’ Mr Magnisalis said.
``I’ve had people tell me that this project is overly ambitious. It is ambitious, but Penrith deserves it. It’s going to change the way people view Penrith.’’
Winter Sports World would strengthen Penrith’s tourism offering, particularly along the Riverlink precinct between activity attractions at Penrith Panthers and the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Mr Magnisalis said.
It would also help provide the ``missing link’’ between Sydney Zoo and Raging Waters Sydney at Eastern Creek and Scenic World at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, he said.
``Located just off the motorway, Winter Sports World will give a reason for more people to stop and experience Penrith.
``It’s the happening location. It’s where the action and people are. That’s what gives us the confidence to invest $300m.’’
Construction would hopefully commence next year subject to planning approvals, with Winter Sports World expected to open in winter 2024.