4 November 2022

Inner North play space on way and it won't just be for the kids

| Ian Bushnell
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Inner North Play Space location map

The Inner North Play Space in Watson will be inclusive and integrated into the neighbourhood. Photo: ACT Government.

A new ‘destination play space’ in the Inner North will cater for all ages from small children to seniors, with construction expected to be completed by June 2024.

A tender has been released for a landscape architect to design and cost the play space to be built on large green space in Watson after the ACT Government sought community feedback late last year and found strong support for an inclusive and integrated play space.

The Government is looking to spend about $2 million on the construction phase of the project, but the successful tenderer will be expected to include over-budget proposals so if more funding becomes available they can be added in later stages.

The eventual cost may be much more, given the bill for the new Ruth Park play space in Coombs was at least $7 million.

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The selected site is Block 3, Section 13 next to the Canberra Technology Park (CTP) and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE), which in 2018 promised to contribute to the cost of two multi-use courts as part of the direct sale of Block 2, Section 13 so it could expand.

As well as the multi-use courts, the play space will have a nature play area, climbing structures and equipment, places for incidental play, a bike track and skate area.

It will also have ‘seniors play’, recreation facilities, toilets, green spaces, greater accessibility, improved and new connections for pedestrian and cyclists, and safety and security measures, including lighting.

The tender document says the play space may include other elements to be identified through a co-design process and in collaboration with stakeholders and user groups based on the “site conditions, opportunities/limitations, end-user needs, government objectives and available budget”.

Coombs play space, Ruth Park

A section of Ruth Park, the new play space in Coombs. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The goal is to “create a central community play space for the Inner North that better caters for its users while having diverse play offerings across a range of age groups from toddlers, small children, and teenagers, through to adults and older Canberrans”.

The Government selected the Watson site from 10 possible locations because it was the only one that met all the criteria including zoning, size, opportunity for carparking, proximity to transport networks, including the Phillip Avenue light rail station and future Garden City cycle route, and shops and services within walking distance.

The community feedback showed strong support for inclusive and integrated play space catering to all ages and abilities, especially older age groups such as teenagers and young adults.

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The top three recreation facilities were children’s play equipment, trees and shade structures but there was also significant support for bike and skate facilities.

The top three play opportunities for children were ‘nature play’, climbing structures and ‘water play’.

Toilets, seating and open green space drew strong support, with barbecues, picnic shelters, shared paths and fitness equipment a lower priority but still desired.

Community members also wanted a recreation area that could support community events, markets, performances and festivals.

The play space must comply with the Municipal Infrastructure Standards of Transport and City Services, which will run the landscape architect’s consultation with community.

The tender closes on 13 Deecenber.

An Inner North destination play space was a 2020 election promise.

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Andrew McLaughlin2:13 pm 04 Nov 22

My old high school oval. I played rugby on that field for four years, and helped build the amphitheatre at the NE corner, c.1980

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