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Concept for new Foreshore Park open for feedback

City of Newcastle is seeking community feedback on a new concept for Foreshore Park which sees the site’s community playspace increase by almost eight times.

The new concept shows a fenced regional-level accessible and inclusive playground the size of eight basketball courts and a significant waterplay space that links back to Newcastle’s Indigenous heritage including representation of the original shoreline of the harbour foreshore.

The concept has been developed based on consultation with the community over the past year and delivers a versatile space including community gardens, open areas for children to skate, scoot and splash, and designed to allow a variety of major events in the city centre.

A headline feature of the preliminary concept for Foreshore Park is the inclusive ‘Variety Livvi’s Place’ playspace which is being delivered in partnership with Variety the Children’s Charity.

The design will include a cultural heritage walk that provides the opportunities to tell both Awabakal stories like Mulubinba, the place of many sea ferns, Awabakal canoe hunting on the harbour, as well as recognising post 1880 stories and the redevelopment of Newcastle as we know it.

These stories are intended to replace the 1988 pond which represented the original fresh water source and one of three man-made wells known as “The Frog Pond”.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that the local community’s valuable feedback has been reflected in the draft plans.

“It’s wonderful to have an incredible regional scale inclusive playground based on input from our community as the cornerstone of the preliminary concept for our city’s iconic Foreshore Park.

“Now more than ever, we value our open spaces and parks, and this project is a great collaboration between City of Newcastle, Variety the Children’s Charity and our community which will transform the Harbour Foreshore into a more inviting recreational space and major event venue for everyone to enjoy.

“We have consulted with our Indigenous stakeholders on the key heritage elements of the concept including the removal of the Frog Pond and provision of an exciting water play area linked to our heritage.”

The addition of the new cultural elements at Foreshore Park was strongly supported by Luke Russell from Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee.

“I’m really pleased there is a significant increase in the representation of Guuri culture in the Foreshore Park concept with the plan reflecting equal parts Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage. City of Newcastle’s engagement on this project has resulted in a positive outcome for the community,” Mr Russell said.

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Cr Declan Clausen, who sits on the Foreshore Park Community Reference Group said the level of community feedback already received has been fantastic, and has encouraged all Novocastrians to now have their say about City of Newcastle’s plans.

“I encourage community members to view the designs which pay tribute to Newcastle’s history, culture and environment, as well as the origins of trade and exchange in the city, and provide feedback via our online mapping tool, or in person at a drop-in session.

“Our Community Reference Group has been a great way to understand the different uses of Foreshore Park, and to also gain the valuable views of key stakeholders and user groups of such an important public space. Now we want to hear from the broader Newcastle community about the things they would love to see and do in Foreshore Park.”

The ‘Variety Livvi’s Place’ playspace which will be great for kids of all ages and all abilities is being delivered in partnership with Variety and has been bolstered by $500,000 from the Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund and announced on 5 February by Deputy Premier Hon John Barilaro.

Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW/ACT Inclusive Play Manager, Kim Becherand, said “Variety believes all kids deserve a fair go, including the opportunity to play.”

“Variety is pleased to partner with City of Newcastle in the creation of a truly inclusive playspace where all kids will play together, feel welcome, safe and that they belong.”

The concept also considers the interrelationship between the different spaces within the park and their connections to the harbour.

Community engagement is open until Friday 26 February 2021. The community can view the concept and have their say at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/yoursay

Feedback will assist in the finalisation of the draft masterplan, which will be placed on public exhibition later in 2021.

Summary of community engagement to date:

• Project announced in December 2019 and community engagement on the Foreshore Precinct Masterplan begins.

• Large scale community engagement occurred in July 2020 including a survey and social pinpoint plus Variety undertook additional engagement with schools and other key stakeholders regarding the playground. Engagement included questions about what people love about the area, what they want to see in the future and how they use the park.

• Community Reference Group (CRG) was formed and includes community members, stakeholders and representatives from community groups. First meeting was held in August 2020 about the visions and principles guiding the masterplan.

• CRG meeting occurred in December 2020 for feedback on an early draft concept.

• Drop in session for adjacent residents occurred on 13 February at Foreshore Park.

• Community engagement begins on concept designs in February 2021 including social pinpoint, drop in sessions, free texts submissions and survey.

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