Brooks Reach estate developer gets playground lesson from school kids

Stockland will build its new Brooks Reach community park in Horsley in the Illawarra based on the ideas and insights from 150 Dapto Public School kids aged five to 10.

The 6,800-square-metre park – the size of a football field – will incorporate many of the featured suggested by the kids, including a three-metre-high, seven-metre long “tower slide”; a large circular “bird’s nest swing”; and a spinning “supernova” carousel-like ride. 

It marks the first time in Australia that a developer has asked for children's input through consultation prior to the planning of an urban development. 

Last year the developer partnered with Professor Karen Malone of the University of Western Sydney last year to conduct research around what local children wanted to see in their own neighbourhood and the new one being developed at Brooks Reach.

The Wollongong Council has granted the park DA approval, and construction is expected to start mid-year, with completion due around October 2012. 

Malone said the top five things the children wanted from their playground were: 

1. Secret and shady places for cubby building

2. Thrill seeking

3. A play space where they could create their own space

4. A place that promotes learning /a place that keeps and protects nature

5. A place where we can create communities

 

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“This feedback from the kids means that Stockland is now able to create a playground that gives kids all the things they want and dreamed of – a chance to be imaginative, explore, test their limits, learn and laugh with their friends,” says Malone. 

“The Brooks Reach park research been a fantastic project to lead, and is something new for Australia and in fact globally to have children involved in a design process initiated by a developer like this. 

“It’s great that Stockland actively looked to get the community involved in this way. It is not something that happens every day, and I’m sure the result will be terrific.” 

Stockland senior development manager Michael Braithwaite says the kids’ involvement has added an exciting element to the design process. 

“Encouraging a healthy and active life is something Stockland is really passionate about, so we wanted to come up with something that the kids and their families would enjoy and use regularly. 

“The best way to give the kids what they really wanted was to involve them from the outset. We’ve now got a design that caters to all age groups in a really meaningful way. It’s been a very exciting and eye-opening experience for everyone,” he says.

 Dapto Public School deputy principal Cheryl Seagrove says: “Most of the children who will be living at Brooks Reach will attend Dapto Primary School, so we were very interested in establishing a link between the school and the new neighbourhood. 

“We’ve worked with Stockland in the past on similar initiatives, such as the recent launch of the Walking Bus here in Dapto. It’s been wonderful to see a developer take on board the insights of local children and allow them to authentically participate in the planning process,” she says.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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