Boroondara Council backs down on heritage rocket demolition

A plan to demolish a heritage rocket feature at an inner Melbourne children’s playground has failed to launch after the proposal sparked a community backlash.

Boroondara Council announced a plan to demolish the seven-metre high climbing apparatus in February prompting residents near Hawthorn’s Central Gardens to start a “Save Rocket Park” petition.

Magnet for kids: Henry and Eloise Gannon play on the rocket tower in Central Gardens, Hawthorn.Credit:Joe Armao

The council announced on Friday that while its proposed redevelopment of the park would continue the rocket would stay.

“The rocket will remain a local landmark in Central Gardens, Hawthorn for many more years to come,” a council statement said.

“During the consultation phase for the new play area our community made clear their desire for Council to retain the 1960s rocket.

“In listening to community feedback, Council conducted another round of comprehensive investigations and audits aimed at keeping the rocket in a playground which needs to be redeveloped.”

The council said the audits confirmed safety concerns that would need to be addressed if the rocket was retained.

“While a heritage study found the rocket is of local heritage significance, being the last of its kind operating as playground equipment in metropolitan Victoria,” it said.

The council’s new proposal will see the rocket modified including:

  • New concrete footings;
  • Replacement of all rubber surfaces;
  • A side ladder for better access;
  • Increased standing space;
  • Altering the gap between some of the metal bars; and
  • Increasing the internal opening between each platform.

“These works will minimise the risk of injury or fall, prevent limb entrapments and improve access to children,” the council statement said.

“ Modifications will not impact the well-known attributes of the rocket, or its local heritage value.”

Local ward Councillor Wes Gault said the council was “delighted” with the feedback from the local community and beyond.

“While many councils in Victoria have destroyed these rockets or removed them from playgrounds, the City of Boroondara has found a way to keep its rocket for many generations of children to enjoy,” he said.

More to come

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