Date of installation: 2011
Heatherside Community Space, Surrey
Heatherside Recreation Ground is within a housing estate that 3-4 years ago suffered from significant anti-social behaviour from local young people with little to do. The Safer Surrey Heath Partnership sourced funding to resolve the problem. Initially a planning application, with very little public consultation, was submitted for a MUGA on the recreation ground. This was met with fierce opposition from the local community and was rejected at the planning stage.
From 2009 wide ranging public consultation was undertaken, with meetings and focus groups, to find out what people wanted at Heatherside. Older children wanted a large-scale skate park - which met with some reservation as it may attract visitors from outside the local community. Many parents wanted the old outdated play area on site to be replaced.
After much discussion, an agreement was achieved with the concept of a "village green" offering something for everyone. This includes an outdoor gym, primarily for adults, new fenced play scheme for ages 3 - 14yrs and a small skate park. The aim is to encourage "natural policing" of the area by generating a wide ownership. Wicksteed Playscapes' scheme was chosen as the design due to its natural feel, and the company's ability to deliver all the elements of the scheme.
Purpose of Scheme
One of the key aims of this play scheme was to provide an interest for every age within the recreation ground. It was also felt that by using consultation to provide the local community with what they wanted it would encourage a broad age of visitors to use the facilities and encourage a ‘natural policing' of the area.
The equipment in the previous play area was old and offered little play value. A lengthy community consultation process revealed the type of play equipment that was wanted in the new playground.
The different play areas in the park have been given their own defined space so that neither infringe on the other; from the fenced play equipment area to the adults exercise zone and the skate park.
The natural materials and undulating landscape appealed to the local community and most of the play units are made from timber with inter-linked rope netting. Large wooden tree trunks have been laid to provide climbing and balancing opportunities and act as ramps to the top of the bespoke embankment.
The play scheme is designed to be challenging for older children and encourage them to stretch their physical abilities through climbing, jumping, balancing etc.
Benches have been provided within the play area and stone boulders and tree stumps provide informal seating.
The fitness zone is aimed primarily at teenagers and adults and contains 6 outdoor Xerscape exercise units. The units are user-friendly and can deliver the right level of fitness according to varying levels of ability. The units are designed to help achieve upper / lower body strength, balance, coordination and cardiovascular fitness.
In the centre of the fitness zone is a wooden gazebo with seating to provide shelter and shade.
The skate park is the area where most compromise had to be made as the 'skaters' wanted a much bigger section, but there were concerns this would dominate the recreation ground. Wicksteed Playscapes held a consultation session with those wanting a skate park to help develop a solution which is a smaller scale skate area but one that has all the elements to develop their skills.
Play equipment includes:
• Birds Nest Swing
• Pick-up sticks timber climbing structure
• Bespoke grassed embankment with tunnels
• Embankment slide
• Animal Spring Mobiles
• Timber Swing with Cradle Seats
• Natural Agility Trail
• Timber Stepping Posts
Exercise equipment includes:
6 x Xerscape outdoor gym units
Skate Park includes:
• Quarter pipe
• Flat Bank
• Grinding Steps
Reason for using various design components:
• Rubber matting where the grass will grow through has been used in high traffic areas and around play units.
• Hardwood round timber has been used which is robust enough to withstand regular normal use and vandalism
• Gates have been painted bright yellow to increase their visibility
• The Birds Nest Swing is ideal for use by disabled children / young adults
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