Playground to be added to Cronulla mall upgrade but water play feature faces axe

Jade Carroll, with Isla, 3, and Lachlan, 16 months, is very pleased the council is reconsidering getting rid of the playground in the mall.
Jade Carroll, with Isla, 3, and Lachlan, 16 months, is very pleased the council is reconsidering getting rid of the playground in the mall.

A children's playground is expected to be added to the Cronulla mall upgrade, but the proposed water play feature and digital screen face the axe.

Changes will be made following community feedback on the draft schematic design, which was exhibited by Sutherland Shire Council in September.

Under the draft plans, the playground was to be removed and a pop-up water play feature and large digital screen installed.

More than 6000 people were made aware of the draft design and invited to respond, but only 129 total surveys were completed, with formal feedback received in other ways from 41 people.

A staff report is due to discussed by the infrastructure committee on Monday night before the matter goes to the full council meeting later in the month.

A Ward councillors Carol Provan, Michael Forshaw and Marie Simone, who have been heavily involved in the design process, will also meet to discuss the proposed changes.

The staff report said the design for the Cronulla Town Square component, at the Kingsway end of the mall, received a mixed response, with 45 per cent supportive, 38 per cent unsupportive and 17 per cent undecided.

"Further interrogation of these results indicates that the key factors in this result were:

  • "A strong desire to retain or replace the playground.
  • "Marginal support for the digital screen and with 38 per cent supportive, 28 per cent not supportive and 34 per cent undecided. The undecided feedback was partially qualified by concerns about screen content.
  • "Marginal support for the water feature with 39 per cent supportive and 29 per cent unsupportive. This is understood to be in part due to the indicative size of the feature."

The report said changes were being made in response were:

"Playground - There is a strong desire expressed by the community for more traditional play as well as sculptural play in the plaza. As such the design will be developed to include a playground in the plaza during the detail design phase.

"Digital Screen - Based on the community's feedback the screen is no longer considered to be suited as a prime activator in the Town Square. There may be a need during events to have a temporary screen installed and this is being investigated. Smaller screens positioned along the Plaza for navigation and the promotion of Council events are also being explored.

"Water Play Feature - The water play feature received some favourable feedback but also some unfavourable feedback. As this element is a high cost item and does not have conclusive public support to justify the expenditure, it is also no longer seen a prime activator in the Town Square."

The report said the proposed water feature could be switched off for functions such as events or it may otherwise be programmed to operate to a limited area.

However, in light of the feedback, it was no longer being pursued in the design, although other water options such as a fountain or pond with ornamental jets were possible other options.

"The disadvantage of [the pond] option is the space it occupies," the report said. "There is [also] an inherent risk of drowning in pond arrangements."

Feedback on other elements of the upgrade plans was more positive.

The widening of the Kingsway footpath to Elouera Road was supported by 60 per cent of respondents, with the remainder being undecided or non-committal.

Responses to the the design for the Cronulla Plaza element, from the Town Square to Ocean Grove, were 57 per cent supportive, 22 per cent unsupportive and 21 per cent undecided.

The detail design phase on this section will proceed, guided by community feedback on the importance of shade and more public seating and with a further investigation of lighting options.

The report said, after consideration of alternative species, the proposed mix of trees would not be changed.