Willoughby Council refurbished one of their community’s beloved playspaces at Muston Park, Chatswood. The following article explores how council used the Everyone Can Play Guideline to inform the scope of the project, the design, and ultimately the delivery to ensure the community received an upgraded playspace which is inclusive to everyone in the community.
Willoughby Council’s Asset Management Plan assists in the strategic management of Council’s assets including playspaces. Council programs playspace replacements on average, every 15 years to determine what modifications or upgrades can be made. Improving existing playspaces creates a great opportunity for engagement with the local community to seek their feedback on what they love about the playspace, what enhancements they would like to see, and an opportunity to embed the inclusive principles of Everyone Can Play in the upgraded playspace.
The scheduled renewal of the playspace provided an opportunity to review the playspace in alignment with the Everyone Can Play Guideline to determine what elements were already inclusive and working well, and where improvements could be made to make the playspace more inclusive. Undertaking this review assisted Council in determining the scope of the upgrade works and identifying where works outside of the playspace (e.g. installation of new pathways within the parkland, upgrade to nearby amenities building) could assist in creating a more inclusive playspace. Council undertook the first round of consultation with the local community to understand what they love about the playspace and what enhancements they would like to see.
There was one consistent message – keep the rocket ship! The Chatswood local community refers to Muston Park as the “Rocket Ship” park. The rocket ship has been an icon of Muston Park since the 1960s when a “rocket” was first installed at the park and has been loved ever since by multiple generations. Feedback from the community combined with Councils assessment of the playspace assisted in determining the scope for the playspace renewal.
From the community consultation feedback, Willoughby Council knew the rocket ship had to be retained, but the playspace renewal provided a great opportunity to incorporate inclusive elements which tied in with the outer space theme. The concept plan featured the retained rocket ship and new play pieces including a spinner, Lunar Landing Module, moonboot footprints and stepping logs painted with the planets of our solar system.
The plan also included a triple swing set with basket swing and rubber softfall pathway, sand digger, musical rain wheel located adjacent to pathway to enable wheelchair use, trike track, quiet spaces and a new bubbler in the playspace. There were numerous inclusive elements which were proposed to be retained including the existing perimeter fence and significant mature trees which provide plenty of shade and amenity for the playspace.
Willoughby Council conducted a second round of consultation to ask the community what they thought of the concept plan. Most of the feedback was in support of the proposed design and only minor changes occurred including replacing the proposed spinner with a Mars Rover Springer, providing rubber softfall underneath the Lunar Landing Module to make it more accessible, and moving a platform seat so it could be accessed from the path. This was also a great opportunity for council to review the playspace against the Playspace Evaluation Checklist in the Everyone Can Play Guideline to ensure they had aligned the playspace renewal with the inclusive play principles of Everyone Can Play.
As part of the initial scoping of the project, Council identified the opportunity to undertake works outside of the playspace as part of the Muston Park masterplan including upgrading the nearby toilets, installing an accessible bubbler, upgrading park entries and building new pathways throughout the park. These additional works assist in ensuring all users can both get to and stay at the playspace.
The upgrade of Muston Park has been well received by the local community. The playspace and surrounding open space are well used and loved. If you haven’t already visited the “Rocket Ship” park and want to experience an out of this world journey – its not rocket science - visit the upgraded inclusive playspace at Muston Park located in Chatswood!