Playgrounds to be cut, but improved

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
City of Bunbury staff look over playground plans.
Camera IconCity of Bunbury staff look over playground plans. Credit: South Western Times

Surplus playgrounds across Bunbury will be removed under a new strategy to provide fewer but better quality playgrounds in the city.

Bunbury City Council this week endorsed several guiding principles in a draft Public Open Space Strategy for Parks and Playgrounds.

One of those guidelines is to remove playgrounds that are “surplus to needs” based on the accessibility of parks to residential homes within a certain radius.

City staff will assess the accessibility of parks to homes using a 400m (or five minute walk) and an 800m (10 minute walk) radius.

At the moment 78 per cent of Bunbury homes are within 400m of a park with a playground and 98 per cent are within 800m.

The new guidelines set out maintaining those percentages as a minimum standard, but removing surplus playgrounds “at the end of their useful life” without reducing the percentage.

The guidelines raised concerns from Cr Karen Steele during the council’s meeting this week when she said she believed there would be community backlash if certain parks were closed.

But Mayor Gary Brennan told the South Western Times that while there could be a perception the council was being “a bit tight fisted” with the city losing playgrounds, the strategy was actually about building better playgrounds.

“The aim is to have fewer, but better, playgrounds and as the inventory check has revealed we’ve got several playgrounds within the same catchment,” Mr Brennan said.

“The city (council) simply can’t fund high quality playground equipment on every existing playground, so what our staff are looking at are some guidelines and within a circumference of urban area there will be a certain standard playground.

“Like all of our assets, a lot of playground equipment is ageing and some require replacement sooner than others.

“So it’s an opportunity to say ‘let’s rationalise the number of playgrounds we have in the city’ – we don’t need as many as there are today.”

Any parks that have playground equipment removed will remain as public open space.

The strategy will go out for comment before council approval.

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