A new and expanded playground

Existing equipment in Horseshoe Bay playground

South West Rocks Sport and Recreation Association approached Council to partner in developing new recreation facilities for the area. They formed a steering committee and are working with Council to create a new and expanded playground in the Horseshoe Bay Reserve.

The community have given their feedback on the draft designs, which has helped Council and the steering committee prioritise what can be upgraded by the end of 2016.

The great ideas in the design weren’t all possible within the available budget but with the help of community volunteers to offset costs, more equipment and facilities may be included in the playground in the future.

The project

Horseshoe Bay playground - sketch plan proposals

In 2013/2014 Council worked closely with the community to develop a Master Plan for the Horseshoe Bay Reserve. One of the areas identified for improvement in this plan was the young family precinct and particularly the existing playground, which is well past its replacement date.

An expanded playground of approximately 2,700 square meters (up from 300) has been designed, incorporating the natural slope and existing footpaths of the space.

The Master Plan also identified the need to include additional BBQ facilities and a larger group picnic shelter in this area. Also required in this young family precinct is an amenities block in order to reduce the need for people with young children to cross the road and walk a long way away from the playground to use existing amenities.

Funding is available within Council’s current budget to undertake a large proportion of the playground but not the amenities and shelters. These auxillary items will require much more than this. Grant funding is being considered in order to achieve the new amenities block and other infrastructure.

Community feedback

In June/July of this year, Council conducted a community survey to get feedback on how the playground is used and the draft plans. Information about the survey reached more than 5,000 people through Council’s social media and promotion in the newspaper, with almost 90 people completing the survey.

Survey results:

  • 80% said the concept design would suit the age of the children they would take there
  • The equipment rated as the highest priorities was: Flying fox, Mammoth nest swing, Water play, Climbing structure and slides
  • Feedback suggested more equipment was needed for toddlers
  • Shade and seats were ranked as the most important landscaping features – the construction plans include 18 tress and 12 seats

A number of comments also suggested the park needed a barrier or fencing to make the interface with the road safer. The project team have given this issue careful consideration taking into account the budget impact, best practice design and feedback from other Councils.

In order to maintain a natural playground, encourage active supervision and be able to afford a range of play equipment, the park edging will be created with wide natural plant beds and hedges as well as seating. Three speed humps on the access roads will also be added as well as formalising parking bays, in order to increase safety and driver visibility.

Taking this feedback and the budget into consideration the following equipment will be installed in the initial construction phase:

  • Mammoth nest swing
  • Slides and stepping logs, timber balance beams, timber tepee
  • Twista
  • Wild surfer
  • Swing set
  • Double flying fox

The water play area costs in excess of $50,000 and has been put on hold awaiting potential fundraising or grant funding. Other equipment such as the Skyclimber and Double Bay swing won’t be initially included based on feedback about age appropriateness and priorities.

Council have applied for grant funding to enable construction of the proposed amenities block. A proposed new shelter will also be reviewed as funding becomes available.

Get involved in this community driven project

Now that the design is finalised the steering committee are working with the South West Rocks community to secure fundraising support and construction help. A number of local businesses and suppliers have come on board but more are required in order to generate funds to reconsider equipment that can’t be included from the original design.

The timeline

Construction will begin immediately after the September/October school holidays, October 12, with the opening of the new playground planned for mid to late November – ahead of the peak tourist season.