Oatley Bush Park Playground
“Inclusive play inspired by a natural bushland setting”
Georges River Council
Scope of Work
Following an open tender, Fleetwood Urban was appointed by Georges River Council to deliver a new nature-based playground on the site of the old Oatley Steamroller Park. Briefed under the NSW Government’s ‘Everyone Can Play’ guidelines, this richly inclusive play space features a 12-metre play tower and slide, flying fox, junior play items, custom swings, four shelters, picnic furniture, soft fall zones and extensive landscaping. It was opened to the public in September 2019 and has been heralded by Council as a “first-class recreation asset…which caters to people of all ages and abilities.”
Fleetwood led the redevelopment of Oatley Park from design to completion, liaising with Council and the local community throughout. The scope of works undertaken was extensive. Beyond our usual design and construct services, we also coordinated site surveys, arborist and geotech reports, Reviews of Environmental Factors (REF) and ongoing Community Consultation and reporting – while always remaining conscious of the NSW Government’s ‘Everyone Can Play’ requirements. The creative process began with our in-house design team developing and refining concepts for the landscaping, shade and play elements at the new park. Once approved by Council, detailed construction plans were drawn up for the winning concepts including guidance around materiality and methodology, after which we commenced the fabrication, supply and final installation of all elements.
More Project Information
Located in the southern suburbs of Sydney, Oatley Park sits within a bush setting with great significance to local residents. The design challenge was to create a new play space that was entirely sensitive to the surrounding bushland context, while also introducing a challenging, contemporary and genuinely inclusive play experience for visiting families to enjoy. One of the more specific challenges was how to best design the hero play tower so the load-bearing support structure was concealed from view, creating the sense of touching the ground lightly. Conditions at the site were also difficult, with shallow rock requiring the creation of an innovative footing solution.
In addition to creating the new play and shade structures, Fleetwood was also tasked with managing the soft and hard landscaping works surrounding them. With landscaping falling outside of our typical scope, this required considerable adaption of our usual project management processes to effectively deliver all of the elements on time and on budget. Our other major challenge was time. As a high-profile community park with a large number of visitors, it was essential to minimise closures and disruptions. To do this, a carefully staged installation process was undertaken.
One of the project’s biggest innovations was the way we approached the community consultation process, collaborating with a leading nature play education specialist to implement a comprehensive community engagement plan. At a design level, the desire to use resourced timber bush poles for columns required our engineers to create an innovative approach to footing and connection details that still aligned with the overall design intent.
- 12-metre play tower and slide, flying fox and giant timber pole swing set
- Giant accessible adventure walkway with multiple play decks & worm tunnel
- Toddler zone, breakout teen zone & soft fall zones
- Four shade shelters (Targa™) & picnic furniture
- Extensive hard and soft landscaping
- Resourced timber
- Mild steel
- Targa™ shelter
Oatley Park is serviced by a busy shared road with vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians all using the same narrow roadway. Accordingly, vehicle movements to and from the worksite had to be very carefully managed.
Preserving the natural bushland was a significant factor for Council and the use of tree protection fencing with strict adherence to Australian Standards was mandatory for the entire construction period. Early on in the project, we also commissioned a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) Report, providing a detailed analysis of the site’s environmental profile, potential environmental impacts to be aware of and recommended actions to mitigate those impacts.
As early as 2004, the Oatley Park Plan of Management had identified the social benefits of developing a nature-based adventure playground in Oatley Park when the current equipment needed upgrading. That moment arrived in late 2018, providing the perfect opportunity to bolster the local community with a highly-inclusive new play asset that, since its completion, has brought thousands of children, families and visitors together to enjoy a diverse range of outdoor pursuits and activities.
We worked closely with Council and a leading nature play education specialist, to undertake a comprehensive community consultation process. A variety of initiatives were used to ensure everyone had the opportunity to provide feedback and input into the future direction and design of the new play space. These included multiple fact-finding site visits, ‘pop-up’ Play and Activation events including the presentation of three proposed play concepts, a formal ‘Your Say’ web page on Council’s website and posts on Council’s Facebook page to gather informal feedback from the local community.
The completed project combines adventure play with natural materials in wonderful harmony with the beautiful bushland setting of Oatley Park. Already hugely popular, it’s a perfect example of what’s possible through purpose-fit inclusive design, client collaboration and community consultation.
I think the [Oatley Park] opening was a huge hit on the weekend! Thanks for all the hard work you and your guys put in, it really was a great result for all involved.
Rob Casey Environmental & Open Space Projects Officer