Saturday, June 15, 2013

Designing a Park for the Sydney Baby Boom

Greetings from the Annandale Neighbourhood Park Consultation. This is being held in a disused carpet warehouse in the suburb of Annadale, in the inner west of Sydney. Leichhardt Council has acquired a small parcel of land on the corner of Taylor and Chester Streets, next to an existing small park. The idea is to extend the park along Johnston Creek. Two designs (Concept Plan 1 and Concept Plan 2) by architects Phillips Marler were presented (they designed the nearby Leichhardt Living Street). In attendcne are several Councillors, including Daniel Kogoy

One plan has a part along the creek, which could later be extended. It is proposed to demolish the old carpet warehouse, but retain the concrete slab to support the rubber surface for playground equipment. This will also seal in any contamination which may be under the concrete from previous industry activity.

Both designs look good. My suggestion would be to incorporate a small wetland which would treat water from Johnston Creek, use some on site and return the rest to the creek. Lessons learned from Whites Creek Wetland would allow this to be done at lower cost with less maintenance required.

Apart from parks, other community facilities will be needed for the baby boom and the council should start planning now. One way to provide better facilities at lower cost is ton combine functions and collocate services. The ACT Government provides public libraries collocated at several schools, with the school and public libraries combined in the one building. The latest of these at the Gungahlin satellite town centre, combines a library for the high school, the public, TAFE classrooms and community rooms. Some libraries have government shop-fronts. This is easier in the ACT, where there is no separation between state and local government, but is not impossible in NSW and would provide large savings and better service.

The consultation process itself was interesting, being held in the old carpet warehouse. Leichhardt Council seems to be able to choose interesting locations for their community meetings, the last I attended was in a meeting hall of a former mental asylum. Proposed plans were displayed on and a video projected on the wall. One improvement would have been to record a video presentation and make it available on the council web site, for those who could not attend in person (along with a document).

Such face-to-face consultations are a very expensive process and only a very small fraction of residents can and do attend. It may be much cheaper and more equitable to conduct the consultation purely on-line.

Currently a Park Survey Form is provided, but this is a PDF form which is not very user-friendly and the on-line experience misses out on much of the face-to-face involvement. The form is a 783kbyte download and it appears that it has to be printed out and then scanned in to send back.

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