Five suburbs with ageing playgrounds have been selected for Government reviews to determine what form and shape new facilities will take, including Waramanga which last year took its fight for a new play space all the way to the Legislative Assembly.
The ‘whole of suburb’ play space reviews in Narrabundah, Torrens, Higgins, Richardson and Waramanga are seeking public input to assess the playgrounds in each suburb and the needs of the respective communities to identify whether the mix of play opportunities is accessible to people of all ages and provides a variety of play experiences.
The Government said suburbs were selected for review last year by the community Play Spaces Forum, which deliberated between identified suburbs, including those independently assessed, as having play spaces most in need of repair and action.
The Better Suburbs Play Spaces Forum allocated $1.9 million to upgrade and improve play spaces across Canberra, with $375,000 committed to this review.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said play space reviews were a new strategic way of planning for play, looking at a whole suburb rather than just one play space at a time, in close collaboration with the community.
He said that at the end of the co-design process, each suburb will receive detailed plans for one new or re-built play space and a master plan for play spaces across the whole suburb.
“We want to hear from residents in these suburbs as well as the wider community who use these spaces by taking part in the co-design process. This will involve face-to-face pop-up sessions and co-design workshops in each suburb. There is also an online survey available on the YourSay website,” he said.
The Waramanga community has been lobbying for a new playground near its local shops for three years and managed to win Assembly support in March 2018 for the Government to commit to its proposal that included designs by landscape architect Paul Brookbanks from Indesco Designs.
A Government spokesperson said a Ministerial Statement was tabled in the Assembly by the then Minister for Transport and City Services, Meegan Fitzharris, on 31 July 2018 on the provision of a playground in Waramanga.
In the Statement, the Government recognised the need to better engage the community and take more meaningful approaches that tap into the experience and skills of the community, and the Waramanga play space was included in the work of the Better Suburbs Program.
The spokesperson said a group of resident leaders had been formed, including Elizabeth Hoyt who has been leading the playground push, to plan and promote engagement activities with the wider community. Mr Brookbanks had been procured to develop the plans in partnership with the local community and the work should be completed by July.
Local schools including Arawang Primary School and Mount Stromlo High were involved, with children and young people contributing feedback on the current play spaces and co-designing new spaces that meet their needs.
“This review is a formal engagement and design process with a landscape architect and the Waramanga community,” the spokesperson said. “The resulting plans for the feature play space will be final sketch plans ready for construction. The concept plans for the rest of the suburb will lay out a logical mix of open spaces for the community that cater to the mix of ages, abilities and uses and encourage social connectedness and health. The Waramanga community will feel ownership of these spaces as they have been involved in their designs.”
Across the five suburbs, community input is being sought through surveys at www.yoursay.act.gov.au and the following face-to-face drop-in sessions:
Wednesday 8 May, 4:30-6:30 pm at the Torrens Shops
Saturday 11 May, 10 am-12 midday, at the Torrens Shops
Saturday 4 May, 11 am-1 pm, at the Waramanga Shops
Saturday 18 May, 10 am-12 midday, at the Narrabundah Shops
Saturday 4 May, 10 am-1 pm, at the Richardson Shops
No pop-ups scheduled. A different approach is being trialled in Higgins. A smaller group of representative community members will be invited to co-design the play space plans over a series of sessions with the landscape architect. Invitations will be provided through letterboxes across the suburb in the next three weeks.