A 10-year plan to improve the provision of play spaces throughout Hepburn Shire has been released for community consultation.
Hepburn Shire Council recently released its Draft Play Space Strategy 2020-2030, titled Play is for Everyone.
The strategy analyses 23 play spaces - including playgrounds, skate, scooter and BMX facilities, outdoor fitness spaces, water and dog parks - across the shire and their quality and location, as well as outlining a long-term plan for the future provision of play spaces during the next decade.
"The value of play to the physical health and emotional wellbeing of our communities is immeasurable," the strategy, prepared by Conversation Caravan and Bricolage Design, reads.
The proposed vision for play spaces in the shire is that there will be "a network of engaging, inclusive and sustainable play spaces that are reflective of our people and our places".
These include play spaces that "encourage people of all ages and abilities to connect with nature, with the areas of rich Indigenous and cultural heritage as well as participate in an active and connected life".
Community feedback, which assisted in drafting the strategy, indicated nature was the most valued aspect for play spaces - whether located in bushland or around water, such as a lake or spring.
Places to socialise, locations close to home and being able to attend local events and activities such as tai-chi or playgroup also ranked highly.
Other valued aspects identified were access to sporting facilities such as tennis courts or swimming pools in close proximity to play spaces, inclusive spaces catering for a range of interests and places for passive recreation such as dog walking.
The community feedback, from 577 people, found existing play spaces could be improved, while new play spaces could also be developed to provide a range of recreational activities for everyone in the community.
The strategy outlines that most of the shire's play spaces are in a "reasonable" condition, though play spaces for different age groups were lacking in some smaller townships. Most play spaces have well-established shade from trees and toilets on site, while maintenance was also good.
However, the strategy found universal access to play spaces was generally "poorly developed" across the shire, with the Creswick Skate and Splash park the best example of accessibility.
The strategy identified accessibility issues with a number of spaces, including Daylesford Community Skate Park. It identified accessibility could be improved, with other locations such as the play space at Hepburn Springs deemed "very difficult to access" and requiring work.
Other play spaces, such as at Lake Daylesford, Newlyn and Clunes skate park are recommended to be relocated to safer, more connected locations.
The strategy recommends the council make a concerted effort to cater to a greater diversity of ages and improve accessibility to larger, higher level play spaces.
"This will involve additional funding as each play space is renewed to improve paths, facilities and amenity as well as play opportunities at some locations," the strategy reads.
There are many ideas for how play spaces in the shire could be improved.
Priorities for each ward
Priorities for the Cameron Ward include upgrading Queens Park and Clunes Skate Park to be multi-use, in addition to upgrading the Clunes pool with an outdoor cinema. Outdoor exercise equipment is recommended for adults near the creek while diverse play experience opportunities such as a massive swing, parkour space, adventure playground, art and community garden are also included.
For Creswick Ward, priorities include installing outdoor gym equipment, a pool for use in winter, more bike tracks, a playground near the pump track - complete with flying fox and monkey bars - and an all abilities playground with an inclusive swing and sensory garden.
A nature-based play space at Calembeen Park is also included, in addition to an exercise-focused space at Doug Lindsay Reserve.
Play opportunities for older children such as bike slides, flying foxes and tennis courts are outlined for installation Holcombe Ward in addition to a fenced off dog area at Glenlyon Reserve to stop dogs from running into the bush. Fitness equipment and bio walks are also nominated as priorities.
Youth-focused opportunities, such as a youth hub with free wifi, are included as priorities for Coliban Ward, with an upgrade to Trentham Skate Park also recommended. Play equipment for older children - such as a rock climbing wall and a zip line - is too.
In Birch Ward, a pump track behind the Daylesford Community Skate Park and sensory play opportunities such as water play are recommended to be introduced. At Lake Daylesford, more seats and shade are on the cards, while Jubilee Lake needs improvements to the car park.
New dog parks are also noted for Daylesford, Trentham and Creswick in the next 10 years.
A new nature-based play space at Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens is also recommended, while an additional play space could be constructed in Daylesford - to the north of the Midland Highway and to the west of Daylesford-Ballan Rd - if the Lake Daylesford play space is not relocated.
An online directory of play spaces, consistent signage and better promotion of play spaces within the community is also recommended.
Provision of indoor play equipment within existing community facilities, such as libraries and cafes, could also be considered, while installing WiFi could be a way to increase use.
The strategy is now publicly available for community feedback. Consultation closes on Sunday, August 16.