Looking towards the 'Lounge' area of Sydenham Green.  The spine of trees will start along this path behind the red lounge.

Looking towards the ‘Lounge’ area of Sydenham Green.

Looking over the barbeque to the centre of the 'Lounge.'  I think at least two of these trees will be removed to install the climbing net.

Looking over the barbeque to the centre of the ‘Lounge.’ I think at least two of these trees will be removed to install the climbing playnet.

I am pleased that this park is going to be upgraded.  From what I can understand from the design diagrams, the change is going to result in a significant improvement that will benefit the community in a number of very positive ways.

This park is very exposed in areas to the heavy traffic of Unwins Bridge & Railway Roads.  With the noise of planes literally screaming overhead & trucks & cars, it’s a hard park to spend time in unless you are conditioned to these factors.   Add wind & the experience becomes miserable.

The current plan for improving Sydenham Green has four components –

  1. Stitch the park together – because the park is made up of what was once residential streets, it has five sections & a very busy main road cuts right through the middle.  The plan is to visually reconnect these sections by creating shared zones, using graphics & signs & avenue tree planting so that parks users will naturally follow a walking route through four out of the five sections.  The fifth section will be busy in its own right.
  2. Programme – improve the park usage by improving & adding amenities targeted at all age groups.  More people using Sydenham Green means there are more people about to deter any unwanted behaviour & therefore safety will be increased.  Currently, this is a mostly empty park, except for the off-leash dog area & the children’s playground.
  3. Spine – four out of the five sections of the park will be connected by a ‘spine’ – a walking path lined on both sides with trees & with lots of lighting.
  4. Vegetation – the design recommends, “retain all existing trees of cultural, heritage & ecological value.”  Hopefully this means few trees are removed.  The park will be made more attractive by planting deciduous & flowering trees.  An understorey of native plants will be planted to buffer the park from traffic in some areas.  Planting will also be done to create diversity & provide habitat for wildlife.  Lastly, succession planting of trees will be considered.

I am guessing somewhat with the Landscape Masterplan, as there is no key as to which colour means what.  I assume that the pale green means trees already on site, the darker green means new trees to be added & the orange means flowering deciduous feature trees to be added.

The following is how I understand the Masterplan –

  • There will be two broad canopy trees planted at the entrance on Unwins Bridge Road.  They will soften the hard frontage.
  • The off-leash dog area will remain, but will have added seating & landscaping around the periphery.
  • The whole centre beside & including the ‘Lounge’ area will have activities for all ages, hopefully making this vulnerable & usually deserted area a place full of people.  The recently upgraded children’s playground will remain.  New activities include swings & a spinner next to the playground, a large playnet in the centre of the ‘Lounge’ area & a toilet will be built next to the ‘Lounge’ area.  The current barbeque & picnic tables will be moved a few metres & placed under a shade canopy. The kiosk will be retained.  It appears that at least two of the four gum trees in this location will be removed.
  • A fairly substantial area beside the path & Railway Road has been set-aside as a possible forest area with bush regeneration to provide a noise & pollution buffer from heavy traffic.
  • The path that surrounds the ‘Lounge’ area will be made into a circuit for jogging, walking & ‘learn to ride.’  It will be lined on both sides with deciduous flowering trees.  It is unclear how many trees will be removed to achieve this.
  • There will be an outdoor fitness zone.
  • A skate park with spectator seating will be created nearer to the factories fronting the Princes Highway.  Broad-domed evergreen trees & understorey planting along the Railway Road frontage will protect this area from noise & pollution.
  • Henry Street will be 10km speed restriction & have a graphic painted over the road surface, making the entrance to the skate park visually exciting for the young people.
  • There will be car parking beside the skate park.
  • Next to the skate park will be two basket-ball courts & landscaping.  Currently there is one half court.
  • Beside the basket ball courts will be a community garden using water sourced from the roof of the adjoining factory.
  • The very large factory walls behind the basket-ball courts will become public art walls similar to Mays Lane in St Peters.
  • On the side where the Coptic Church is located will be more deciduous flowering trees as part of the ‘spine’ pathway that connects sections of the park.
  • Seems the historic Coptic Church will not be knocked down just yet.
  • There will be second off-leash dog area next to Park Road.
  • An existing barbeque in this area will be retained.
  • A ring of broad-domed trees will be planted in this area.
  • More trees will be planted along Railway Road to act as a pollution & noise buffer.
  • There is a site for the SES to locate to in the future.
  • The Stone Villa Artists Studio will stay.
This area will be transformed into a bush area.

This will be transformed into a bush regeneration area.

This is a significant park upgrade.   If Council goes ahead with this proposed plan, I cannot see how Sydenham Green will not become a busy active park suitable for all ages.   Young people especially benefit.

The many new trees planned is wonderful, as trees, shade & protection from the noise & pollution from heavy traffic is much needed in Sydenham Green.  This by itself will encourage people to use this park.  I love that there will be a bush regeneration area, as at least some part of the ground level of the park will be set aside for wildlife.

By making the ‘Lounge’ area a hub of connected activities for children to play & families to have a barbeque or picnic, this area will cease to be a dry deserted & at times, a slightly eerie area.  Connecting everything should bring this area to life.

This area will become two basketball courts & a large community garden

This area will become two basketball courts & a large community garden.  This old Frangipani tree will be retained.

The good-sized community garden is really great, as there is much interest in the community to have one in Sydenham Green.  A community garden here is a great use of the land & using rainwater collected from a large roof is wonderfully sustainable.

Most exciting is the skate park & basket-ball courts located side by side. These will make a great meeting place for younger people.  Making the large expansive wall a public art wall shows that Council is serious about making a space that is youth-orientated.  I really like it.  This area is located where users can make as much noise as they like, as they won’t affect residential houses.   The painted road of Henry Street also signals this is an area where excitement happens.

One area where I cannot see any improvements.  I think at least one big shady tree would be nice here.

One area where I cannot see any improvements on the plans. I think at least one big shady tree would be nice here.

One of my concerns is that I understand that Park Lane will be closed to parking.  To me this does not make sense, as parking will allow people to easily access the off-leash dog park & also the barbeque area.  Most people drive to use off-leash dog areas.  I have learnt that people will be less likely to use barbeque areas if they can’t park close because they have a lot to carry.  If the Coptic Church does get renovated, whoever is using it will need parking as well.

I also think that the grassed areas for ‘un-programmed lawn activities’ need some trees. I am not a fan of planting trees only around the periphery as it forces people who seek shade to be close to busy areas & doesn’t provide refuge.  The area beside the off-leash area looks barren & this will not change after the upgrade. It’s the same for the other side of the houses on this side of the park & the area next to the former Coptic Church building.

I really like these plans for Sydenham Green.  If I have understood them correctly, this park could become a great park, which is really important as we have so little green space in Marrickville LGA.  Of benefit also is the lovely Sydenham-St Peters Library located in the old Town Hall directly across the road.  With the Stone Arts Villa Studio & the SES on site, Sydenham Green will become a useful community hub.  If the historic Coptic Church building is saved for community use, then even more of the community will be connected to Sydenham Green.

Safe, useable, relevant, exciting & beautiful – this appears to be the future of Sydenham Green.

Marrickville Council is holding a ‘public hearing’ about these plans on Monday 18th November 2013 at 6.00pm at Council’s Administration Centre, 2-14 Fisher Street Petersham.  The deadline for submissions is 27th November 2013.  All plans & more information can be found here – http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/the-future-of-sydenham-green

This area of Sydenham Green will become the skate park, which I think is one of the most exciting features of the upgrade.

This area of Sydenham Green will become the skate park, which I think is one of the most exciting features of the upgrade.

Looking towards the 'Lounge' area.  The line of trees in the distance will be filled in.

Looking towards the ‘Lounge’ area. The basketball courts & community garden will be alongside the factory at the very back.

Trees will be planted along the bollards, but I think the rest will be left as is.  This is another grassed area that I believe could do with a couple of shady trees.

This is another grassed area that I believe could do with a couple of shady trees.

The major area of grass between the 'Lounge' & Henry Street.

This will become a ring of broad-domed trees at the end of Park Lane.  The barbeque area is visible on the right.

Still the park, this is the futire site for the SES.

Still the park, this is the future site for the SES.