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Long-awaited Hamilton South playground gets the go-ahead

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They may have been the home of children’s laughter and shrills of delight in the 1970s and 80s, but the playgrounds at Hamilton South have since become political battlegrounds. 

Receiving little more than minor upgrades in almost 50 years, the simple structures were left to wrack and ruin, one eventually destroyed by bulldozers in March 2021. 

Broken: Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp with pieces of the dilapidated playground at Neil Terrace prior to its demolition.

The two former play spaces were located on Fowler Street and Neil Terrace.

Despite drawing attention from Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, the Neil Terrace playground has been demolished and is nothing more than a patch of dirt in the heart of a social housing estate desperate to change its negative reputation.

This week, however, the community received news a new playground will be built on the site at the corner of Ogden and Fowler Streets. 

Construction is expected to begin in September. 

For former resident Janice (Jan) Patterson, the news is a small victory following a long, hard-fought battle. 

Jan moved to Sydney last month after years of living in Hamilton South. 

During her time in the Newcastle suburb she worked tirelessly to help improve conditions for the community. 

Together with fellow resident Sharon Jonas, the pair created the Hamilton South Community Garden project, which became her drive and passion. 

During her tenure she was also named the 2022 Newcastle Senior Citizen of the Year. 

This week the 70-year-old (who has since reverted to her former name Jan Chamberlain) was thrilled to share the news.

“Excellent news, the long-awaited new playground Fowler and Ogden Streets will be installed in September,” she announced on a community social media group. 

“Many thanks to Tim Crakanthorp MP and team plus CatholicCare Executive for following up and coordinating.” 

Going, gone: Bulldozers tear down the playground on Neil Terrace, Hamilton South, March 2021.

It comes with a sigh of relief. 

“Personally, it is a lovely way to finish my five years here,” Jan told the Newcastle Weekly

“I have watched children make the most of the old broken playground and still have fun with their friends. 

“The new playground is wonderful. It will encourage more parents to come with their children. It’s a terrific social opportunity for both parents and children.” 

The news is being been well received by many parents living nearby too, many sending Jan messages of their child’s excitement about the space. 

Hamilton South Estate consists of 662 dwellings and more than 1,000 residents. 

Dogged with issues of crime thanks to transient tenants, the estate’s long-standing community share a passion and vision for its future. 

“A community that is safe for all residents, is a kind, quiet and compassionate community where all members of the community are positive, happy, drug-free and supportive of each other”. 

Tim Crakanthorp
Danger: The Fowler Street playground has had chipped paint and missing steel bars for months, making it a huge safety concern for residents.

Background:

In March 2021 Tim Crakanthorp spoke publicly and vehemently against the then government’s decision to destroy the playground. 

He delivered a Notice of Motion in the NSW Parliament calling on the government to protect the playground. 

“There are 1000 people in this estate with a significant number on aged or disability pensions,” he said at the time. 

“Asking them to walk close to a kilometre with their children or grandchildren to another facility is not a solution. 

“In the past decade, this government has netted more than $50 million flogging off social housing properties in Newcastle. 

“And, it’s a disgrace that they can’t find the cash to replace a dilapidated playground in a disadvantaged community. 

“Whether they are in private, affordable or social housing, everyone deserves access to community infrastructure and while this playground may be going away, I certainly won’t be.” 

Crakanthorp
Enough is enough: Former resident Janice Patterson and Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp at the Neill Terrace Playground at Hamilton South before it was demolished in March 2021. Photo: Rod Thompson

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