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Central Coast Playspace Strategy

Central Coast Playspace Strategy

This public exhibition has now concluded.

Central Coast Council’s Playspace Strategy will set a strategic direction for the future planning of playspaces across the Region, outlines the principals for the provision of quality facilities for the region and process for sustainable management. The draft Central Coast Playspace Strategy is a result of the review of the former Gosford and Wyong LGA strategies and has been influenced and informed by previous community engagement activities and an independent audit of existing playspaces in the Central Coast region.

The strategy is in keeping with the 2019 Everyone can Play Guidelines by aiming to provide sustainable, inclusive and intergenerational playspaces which support informal physical activity for the benefit of the community.

The key principles that direct the provision of playspaces as outlined in the Strategy are

  • Equitable distribution
  • Co-location with other facilities
  • Being well-designed
  • Being sustainable

Community engagement will continue to inform the planning, design and sustainable management of playspaces throughout the region. Separate Community engagement will be undertaken on individual designs particularly for district and regional playspaces.

The community is invited to:

The opportunity to provide submissions and feedback closed 14 August 2020.


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Katherine Simmons - Open Space and Recreation Planner

What is the difference between a playground and playspace?

A playground is an older term referring to public play equipment provided within a park or reserve.

Playspaces are more than the play equipment - they include a ‘whole of park’ experience and can offer spaces for multiple activities and play experiences within the reserve or park for a range of abilities - often with supporting infrastructure (for example, seating, pathways,  drinking water etc.).

What’s the difference between Local, District and Regional Playspaces?

Council has developed a hierarchy of playspace categories.  This provides a classification system for playspaces based on the extent of area it services, what playspace features and experiences are suitable, what site locations are favourable and expected duration of stay.

  • Local playspaces sit within local parks and cater to surrounding residents located generally within a 400-800m radius for short stay.
  • District playspaces are medium size and service residents in a 1 to 2 km radius and co-located with other facilities for a stay longer than 2 hours.
  • Regional playspaces are the largest sized with the greatest variety of equipment and include ancillary facilities such as car parking and other activities such as skate parks or half courts.  These playspaces service residents within a 5–10 km radius but also attract visitors across the whole region
  • Destination playspace has the capacity to provide unique experiences that attract visitors outside of Council’s LGA and provide interest and activity for an all day stay with supporting infrastructure and facilities. There are usually only one or 2 in a region. eg. Gosford waterfront redevelopment currently under construction
  • Nature/Alternative – creative, low maintenance nature-based playspaces using natural and recycled materials. 

These categories ensure equitable distribution of playspaces across Social Planning Districts based on the availability, size and quality of existing open space and the category of the proposed facility.

How are the features and design elements selected for each playspace?

Design of playspaces considers the context, including nearby facilities, current and future demographics and embraces a ‘whole of park’ approach so that playspaces are inclusive, accessible, intergenerational, creative and minimise maintenance.

Within the design process, the important factors essential to the successful development of new and existing playspaces for the Central Coast are: consideration of community input through specific or previous community engagement activities, site planning, inclusion, accessibility, ‘whole of park’ principles, play value, compliance, longevity.

Council has a professional team that prepares, and reviews individual designs based on these principles.

What are inclusive playspaces?

Council is committed to the provision of places for everyone to feel welcome and participate in community life – including playspaces.
Council has been at the forefront of this as seen in the early development of places such as Saltwater Creek Park, Long Jetty, Peninsula Recreation Precinct Umina, Canton Beach Community Park for the visually impaired and the sensory playspace at Wendy Drive, Point Clare.

Inclusive playspace design means that everyone can participate and have a positive experience, regardless of age, gender, ability or backgrounds.
Inclusive playspaces provide for all abilities, not just access. Accessible playspace design mainly addresses the movement needs of those with limited mobility or specific physical disabilities. 
Council vary playspace inclusions across different sites on the Coast to accommodate the varied needs of all disabilities – whether they are physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments.  
Typical considerations include fencing requirements, type of ground cover, pathway access, stimulating play equipment or quiet play, colourful equipment or natural infrastructure, visibility, parking. 
Design for all abilities requires consideration of the wide spectrum of needs as not all playspaces can cater to all needs. Our larger facilities such as the district and regional playspaces provide the greatest range of inclusive features.
Council implements the principle of providing inclusive and accessible playspaces in line with the endorsed NSW Government ‘Everyone Can Play’ guidelines and Central Coast Council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan to meet the needs of our diverse range of users
Council was also involved in the working group for developing the NSW Government’s ‘Everyone Can Play’ Guidelines 2019, a collaborative initiative to ensure new and upgraded playspaces are inclusive and accessible for everyone.  These guidelines were developed with extensive consultation with advocacy and advisory groups, parents and educators and qualified industry experts.

Council has completed an independent access appraisal on all its playspaces and is developing a program for improving access in playspaces across the region with priority given to addressing deficiencies in existing regional and district playspaces and in some local playspaces.

Why can’t rubber softfall be used for all playspaces?

Softfall is an impact attenuation (reduction) material used under and around play equipment to minimise risk and injury.  It can be any material that meets Australian Standards. Typical types of softfall are sand, mulch, synthetic grass (with attenuation) and rubber. 

Rubber softfall provides a stable and level surface ensuring the area is accessible, but it has a high installation cost, holds heat during summer months, and its longevity is untested. 

Council uses both rubber and mulch softfall in most playspace areas to balance between functionality and cost effectiveness. The rubber softfall is typically used in high wear areas such as under swings, and where accessible connections are needed between the different equipment and back to other pathways around the facility.  

Why don’t all playspaces have shade structures?

Shade structures are included at all regional and district playspaces in the areas of the park that are most essential – such as toddlers’ areas. They are not generally included in local playspaces. 

Council uses natural shade within local playspace design via existing trees or the planting of mature trees. 

Shade structures are not possible at every local playspace due to the upfront capital cost as well as the ongoing maintenance, the high incidence of vandalism and site constraints. 

In line with Cancer Council recommendations, wearing sun-safe clothing such as long sleeves and hats when outdoors and avoiding visiting playspaces at the hottest time of the day (in the middle of the day) is promoted by Council. 

Why don’t all playspaces alongside waterways or roads have fencing?

Risk assessments are undertaken during the development of concept plans for playspace sites to ensure adequate measures are put in place for the safety of the community.
Partial fencing is occasionally included at playspaces assessed as being too close to a hazard, such as a main road or water body (within ten metres or less). However, parental supervision is always required. 

Why are there public toilets at some playspaces and not others?

The co-location of other facilities such as public toilets and pathways for accessibility are considered when selecting locations for new playspaces or relocating existing ones.  Regional playspaces are generally designed to include public amenities buildings where they don’t already exist. 

How are playspaces monitored to make sure the equipment is safe?

To manage risk and provide safe facilities for the community, Council ensures that the design, development and maintenance of playspaces comply with national and state legislation and guidelines.

Council has developed a 20 year management program that provides a long term strategy for repair, replacement and upgrade of play equipment and associated infrastructure. 

The management program is reviewed every three to four years to ensure the key directions are consistent with community needs. 
In addition, a playspace management program ensures routine inspections, maintenance and cleaning across the region’s 260 playspaces.  This program is reviewed and adjusted based on needs from year to year.

How often are playspaces cleaned?

Playspaces are serviced every three weeks through warmer months of the year (November to April) and every five weeks during the cooler months (May to October), which also includes litter, weed, graffiti clean-up.  In addition, all playspaces are checked during quarterly inspections and any specific needs attended to.

High use priority parks, and any playspaces located within these areas, are serviced weekly (Monday to Friday, with weekend rosters during warmer school holiday periods and long weekends.

The community can report issues that need addressing by contacting Council’s customer service – p: 1300 463 954, e: ask@centralcoast.nsw.gov.au 

How safe is it to use public spaces located next to mobile phone base stations?

Council understands that the community may have health and safety concerns related to mobile phone base stations.

On advice from the Federal Government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, it is determined that mobile phone base station antennas emit low level radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME), and based on current research there are no established health effects that can be attributed to the low RF EME exposure from mobile phone base station antennas.

A fact sheet provided by this agency is available online  https://www.arpansa.gov.au/understanding-radiation/radiation-sources/more-radiation-sources/mobile-phone-base-stations

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