We're creating a new dog off leash park at Heathcote Oval in response to community need.

134R Wilson Parade, Heathcote -  north of the existing netball hard courts.

Project timeline

Project start:  April 2023

Expected completion: June 2023

Reason for works

A designated off-leash dog park serving Heathcote and Engadine  will provide a more equitable distribution of Open Space infrastructure across the Local Government Area.

Council’s Community Strategic Plan outlines the current and future priorities for Sutherland Shire, and the Heathcote Oval Masterplan, adopted in 2022, has been developed to align with our aim of enhancing our open places and spaces to promote active lifestyles.

The park is being developed on existing grass netball courts in consultation with Heathcote Waratahs Netball Club. The Masterplan includes 4 brand new flood lit hard courts to be funded in the future.

Scope of works

The scope of works involves:

  • Secure 1.8 metre high fence with 2 “air-lock” style access points
  • Concrete path to a picnic shelter with seating
  • An accessible water fountain with dog bowl and bottle filling tap
  • Tree planting and landscaping.

Project schedule

Community Consultation – 2020 / 2021 (complete)

Concept Design – October 2022 (complete)

Tender – Feburary 2023 (current phase)

Site Establishment – April 2023

Practical Completion – June 2023

Public impacts during construction

The site area will be closed for public use during the construction period.

There may be an increase in dust and noise from time to time, as we upgrade these facilities.

Contractor vehicles will occupy some of the parking along Wilson Parade.


This project is fully funded by Council.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • In late 2020, Council commenced a project to identify and implement a dog off-leash park in the Engadine and Heathcote area.
  • In early 2021, community consultation was undertaken and three possible sites were considered.  The community had an opportunity to also nominate other possible locations. The community consultation resulted in a high level of engagement, and there was mixed support for the various locations proposed.
  • Council determined that Heathcote Oval was the preferred candidate for a dog off-leash park to service the broader Engadine and Heathcote area.
  • Council has consulted with Heathcote Netball Club and the Sutherland Shire Netball association regarding the proposed use of space who have indicated they only require four of courts at Heathcote to meet their current needs, leaving the space of four courts available for the dog off-leash facility.

Sutherland Shire has one of the highest rates of dog ownership in NSW.

We have seen significant growth in dog ownership over the last two years; due in part to COVID-19 lockdowns. The trend towards higher density living is likely to create continued increases in demand for open space suitable for exercising dogs off-leash.

Council recognises there is a strong desire in the community for adequate space to exercise their dogs. Off-leash areas can provide the following benefits:

  • they provide an alternative recreation option, particularly for residents not as involved organised sport or recreation; and are environments that offer ‘social connection’ with other dog owners
  • they provide an environment where dog owners can exchange advice on dog management, and where responsible dog ownership principles can be promoted and reinforced
  • they allow dogs to socialise freely (important for dog to dog socialisation)
  • they allow apartment and small allotment dwellers to own dogs
  • they provide a focal point for community education and training programs

The Service Standard for Dog Exercise Facilities in Sutherland Shire is summarised in the table below. This standard is contained in Council’s Open Space Strategy and Implementation Plan which considers emerging trends, challenges and opportunities as Council works in partnership with the community to plan for the future of open spaces.


Dog Exercise TypeOff-Leash Park
DescriptionDestination park spaces for recreation with dogs where fencing or natural barriers are in place to support off-leash activity and minimise disturbance of other park uses and activities.
DistributionMost homes within 5 km
Possible locationsSubject to site suitability assessment:

Regional and District level parks
& accessibility
  • Connected to active transport network
  • Accessible location and site
  • Meets access standards
  • Highly visible location
  • Fencing, natural or existing barriers
  • Timed or dedicated use of open space
  • Possible separate areas for small and large dog
ShadePerimeter shade to 50% of boundary where feasible
Minimum area3,000 m2
Support facilities
  • Water station
  • Seating

When reviewing potential locations for the new off-leash dog area, we assessed sites for suitability according to the following criteria:

  • An area no less than 3000m2 if possible
  • Visibility and monitoring
  • Environmental issues that may impact use
  • Mostly level with good drainage
  • Council-managed land
  • Proximity and appeal to users
  • Access to existing facilities
  • Accessibility
  • Shade

Yes.  Council currently provides six off-leash dog areas designed to meet the needs of both dogs and their owners. In addition, it is permissible for the community to exercise dogs in most public reserves on a lead.