Landscape architect: Hornsby Shire Council
Documentation: Hornsby Shire Council
Landscape contractors: Landscape Solutions
Hornsby Shire Council used the Everyone Can Play Guideline to inform the design and delivery of the new inclusive playspace at Waitara Park. Everyone Can Play’s 3 key principles were front and centre throughout the design of the playspace but also beyond to the greater park context.
Hornsby Shire Council embraced the opportunity to renew Waitara Park and develop a new Masterplan with a new inclusive and fenced playspace. The playspace was officially opened on 13 April 2019 by Minister for Energy and Environment and Member for Hornsby Matt Kean and Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock. More than 1,000 people attended the opening event organised by Hornsby Shire Council.
The 3 key principles of Everyone Can Play were applied beyond the fence line of the playspace in Waitara Park.
The consideration of Can I Get There? improved walking in and around the entire Waitara Park. It also included the provision of accessible parking and a mini-bus drop off zone for people coming from outside the area.
The main features of the playspace include the large amazon themed tower, trampolines and inclusive play items such as swings, carousel, and a range of play equipment to suit younger children and children with additional needs. Play equipment has been positioned to provide progressively challenging activities. The park is themed around native flora and fauna, local buildings and a variety of faces to reflect the local area.
The adjoining tennis centre provides amenities including a kiosk and outdoor shaded area, allowing parents and carers to relax while remaining in view of their children. The Waitara Park playspace is the first in Hornsby to include large sails over most of the play equipment, a BBQ, water bubblers, public toilets, picnic shelters, extensive seating, exercise equipment and accessible parking all in one place. All these features enable visitor’s further choice in how long they wish to stay at the playspace.
One of the focuses of the Everyone Can Play Guideline is the importance of consultation with the local community, advocacy groups, designers, schools and people who use the playspace. Hornsby Shire Council engaged with the local community to inform the design and delivery of the new inclusive playspace at Waitara Park.
During the design development of the playspace, Council sought advice from key community advocates for people with disabilities including:
- Bec Ho from Touched by Olivia
- Jan Fowler, Principal at Warrah School
- Melissa Date, Teacher at Warrah School
- Kristie Chambers from Avalon’s Journey
Their passion and enterprise assisted in understanding the community’s needs, and how to design an inclusive playspace that would be a place for all to enjoy.
The local community were consulted through the concept design and planning stage. Plans were placed on exhibition for three weeks in August 2017 and the public were given the opportunity to provide feedback.
Responses from the public were supportive of the proposal. In particular the provision of a large number of swing sets, the inclusion of shade sails and artwork. Based on the local community’s values, a brief was developed to create a series of murals to connect the space overall.
A series of workshops in nearby parks and via online channels were run with two artwork options being presented to the community. Children and adults of all ages were invited to respond and leave their contact details for follow-up information about the park.
The consultation on the artwork for the park provided Council with the opportunity to show the local community that their feedback is valuable and to respond to concerns. It also gave the community ownership over the playspace and generated ongoing community interest in the project.
The selected artwork was from Studio Artes, a local organisation that provides tailor-made creative activities and life skills programs for adults living with a wide range of disabilities. Their artwork concept presented a variety of local faces and a focus on iconic, familiar things to the area e.g. native flora and fauna, local architecture and public transport.
The Waitara Park Playspace project demonstrates how undertaking community consultation, partnering with local organisations, and having the 3 inclusive play principles at the forefront while designing, Hornsby Shire Council were able to deliver an inclusive playspace which caters to everyone in the community regardless of their age, ability or cultural background.