A central Levin reserve could soon be developed as a special sensory playground for disabled people with the remainder cut up for housing.
Three years ago the IHC Foundation approved funding for a community project to be designed specifically as a fully accessible space that those with disabilities could navigate safely alongside able-bodied users.
Enquiries had shown there was a group of vulnerable Māori, Pasifika, Pākehā and Indian parents who struggled to manage everyday life with family members who had a range of disabilities.
Many of the parents interviewed said they wanted a safe and accessible outdoor space to sit and relax and watch their children play.
IHC whānau liaison Suzanne Downes approached HDC in 2020 having identified Lincoln Place as a perfect spot for a sensory playground and submitted a design plan put together by Childspace Wellington.
"The design of the space is a universal design that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming for all members of the community from toddlers to the elderly and incorporates many cultural and spiritual elements of our whenua," she said.
Lincoln Place Reserve, located between Lincoln Place and Goldsmith Cres, was on a list of properties that Horowhenua District Council had tagged for sale anyway.
A report by parks and property manager Arthur Nelson said the 6000 square metre grassed area was used mainly as a thoroughfare for pedestrians and was described as "vulnerable" due to poor passive surveillance and oversight.
HDC was considering a range of options for Lincoln Park, from doing nothing to a complete sale. At a recent meeting councillors voted for an option that would do both, with an estimated six residential lots to be developed alongside a new planned playground.
Downes was to meet with HDC CEO David Clapperton last week to discuss how the park design would fit in with the proposed social housing design plans.
HDC had held a series of workshops and were provided with a concept plan submitted by Robin Christie from Childspace.
While the playground would be fully accessible to everyone, it would have safety aspects and a particular focus on those with disabilities.
Deputy mayor of Horowhenua Jo Mason supported the sensory park development.
She said the planning process was community-driven, led by Muaūpoko Tribal Authority and IHC in consultation with a host of other community groups including neighbouring property owners.
"The drivers of this concept have access to and are working with philanthropic groups and are very confident of getting funding ... it would not become a burden to the ratepayer in terms of development of the park," she said.
"They are essentially not asking for money ... they are asking for a commitment that we don't dispose of the land and that they can start their process of looking for funding and council can start consideration of what housing development might look like.
"Disabled people and their families will tell that the development of this park will be more than just a playground. It will be about equity and benefit for all.
"If we built a world that's accessible for all, it's good for all."
HDC was unanimous in supporting the new playground, which was estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000.
The remainder of the park would be developed into medium density housing, although just how much of the park and how it would be developed was yet to be finalised.