What is a Playscape?
It’s a landscape, designed to be played on!
Think running up and down slopes, clambering over logs and rocks, playing in the sand, with trees and planting adding shade and interest, places to sit and watch and an inspired bespoke climbing frame with some classic playground equipment too, like swings and an accessible roundabout.
The idea is to make the space more enticing for children and grown-ups alike!
Why has this approach been taken?
We did a lot of research at the beginning, from reading best practice guides like ‘Design for Play’, visiting a range of playgrounds, and doing lots of surveys and consultations with as many people and groups from the village as possible.
Our main findings are in our initial report, but in summary, the landscape led approach was favoured as it provided the best way to tackle the various issues we’d uncovered. Just buying new playground equipment wouldn’t address access and storage issues, the lack of shade or the feelings of segregation, we needed a properly designed solution.
This holistic approach also prompted the commissioning of a masterplan of the whole recreation ground to determine how to best use ALL of our space for play, exercise and relaxation, for everyone, and it’s already having an impact.
It’s an ambitious project, but with the massive reduction of children’s roaming range and subsequent increased indoor time and sedentary lifestyle it is crucial that we create a space that entices the whole community outside to play and socialise more and ensure we produce an inclusive space that provides a lasting legacy for the whole village.
What do you mean by inclusive?
Inclusive design aims to consider as many different peoples needs and abilities as possible, including age, gender, ability and disability.
Playgrounds can very often be exclusive. Older and younger children are separated, there are very few opportunities for disabled children and young people and adults are not often catered for at all!
So we have championed a design that is open to all and open to interpretation: one that does not prescribe who can use an element and how it should be used.
Inclusive design allows visitors of varying ages and abilities to play together or alongside one another and to use things in different ways and at different times. A hammock, for example, can be used by toddlers, teenagers, adults or wheelchair users that can manage a standing transfer. We have tried to design in as many accessible elements, such as in-wheelchair access to the sand trough and a trampoline big enough to be wheeled on to, to be as inclusive as possible within the space we have.
It’s important that this is a community space, like a village square, where the whole spectrum of the community is welcome to play, meet together and enjoy being outdoors.
Will there be a fence?
The Playscape itself will be defined by landscaping (mounds and planting) in light of best practice and to increase playability of the space, with clear signage explaining where the dog free area is.
The existing green fence will be repurposed as a new safer fence along the edge of the car park, to prevent children (and dogs!) running straight into the path of a vehicle, arguably where the real danger lies.
How much is it going to cost?
As of January 2019 Erect Architecture will be starting work on RIBA Stage 3+ so that we can get Expressions of Interests from contractors to get a firmer picture of costs.
In the meantime we had some cost estimates put together by a quantity surveyor in summer 2018 which puts the figures in the region of:
Playscape Phase: £250k
This cost includes the extensive landscaping and planting, play equipment, safety surfacing, drinking fountain, benches and bins etc.
Wheelscape area: £100k
A concrete skating/scooting/wheels area is the more expensive option, but it is also the most sturdy, durable and acoustically sympathetic option. This estimate incorporates more mounds to tie in with the playscape, drainage, and a second fence for planting by the tennis courts.
Basktetball/football practice zone: £50k
New practice goals with proper surfacing and landscaping work to bed the area into the slope.
Why do we have to fundraise for our playground?
Well…when a community gets funds for new facilities it’s usually down to section 106 or CIL payments from a large planning permission.
If, like in Hauxton, a big new estate is built in the village, one of the planning conditions is that the developer has to contribute towards the local community’s infrastructure and facilities, thus they get funds towards a new village hall and playground. Our last bit of section 106 money was spent on the Sports Pavilion and Tom’s Midnight Garden Arch. The problem Great Shelford now has is that there aren’t any obvious large building plots to develop, so section 106 funds are unlikely to materialise to help this project.
Why can’t the Parish Council just fund this project?
The simple answer is that this project is beyond their yearly budget for all their village responsibilities.
The PC have, however, reserved funds from their budget to pay for the new pedestrian entrance to the rec through the car park, the car park extension and a future deck around the pavilion. They are also pursuing tenders for a new mains services point (water and electricity connection) on the green shelter side of the footpath. This is primarily for the feast, but would potentially enable other events on the rec.
All these enabling works are part of the broader master plan and are designed to compliment the efforts we’re making for better play facilities.
Can it be paid for by grants?
Yes and no!
There are some large local grants, but it is unusual to be able to secure a grant that would cover the full cost of such a project. Some of the grants often have criteria that require applicants to have raised a certain proportion of the funding and to demonstrate community support.
As of Jan 2019 we estimate we’ll need to raise a further c.100k before we can apply for the large grants to fund the Playscape phase.
We’ve raised over £70k so far, with some of that being spent on professional fees to date. Our totaliser on the homepage is updated regularly so you can keep an eye on it there!
Our aim is to focus on the Playscape first. We can apply for the same large grants after a year, so we could re-apply to do the further phases in the future. See our phasing diagram for more details.
Will Playscape have to be scaled back because of costs?
We certainly hope not! There are no plans to scale anything back, it may just take longer to fundraise!
In light of the QS estimates we have reviewed a few elements of the design. For example, it was mooted a while ago, to make the pedestrian path wider for vehicular access to the pavilion, but we shall be leaving that as is. We have also decided to simplify the sand and water play by taking out the expensive water pump and opting for a drinking fountain in the area instead so that people can add water to the sandpit if they wish while also providing a source of fresh drinking water! This would save on maintenance costs too.
We’ve always recognised that the master plan would have to be phased, both from a financial point of view and general disruption on the rec, so this hasn’t changed.
When will work start?
We’ve already started and made a real difference on the rec!
With the help of the SSYI and other volunteers we’ve transformed the area down by the river with a willow den, wild flower meadows, new bridge and stepping-stones and a den building area in the copse.
The Parish Council has also relocated the cricket and football equipment to make space for the future Playscape and they are due to put in a deck at the duck feeding area too, as part of the Copse Phase.
Improvements at the top of the rec include planting a section of wildlife friendly hedging (near the flag pole), which we will be extending in Spring 2019. We will also be redecorating the Green Shelter (which has new comfortable seats in there now too) with the winning design in due course.
In terms of the Playscape phase, it’s a case of raising the money to start:
When we were unsuccessful with a couple of large grants in the summer and then received the new QS costings it was clear that we just didn’t have the funds to start building. So fundraising is the main delay, however there has also been a lot of behind the scenes discussions between us, the architects and the Parish Council, about the procurement route we should take: Do we go to a play company and they do a design and build contract with more off the shelf equipment, or do we go to a more bespoke play equipment company and then employ a landscape contractor to oversee the whole project? This is why Erect are doing stage 3+ and we’re asking for Expressions of Interests so that we can compare the two options.
What are you doing now?
We are planning our big fundraising and publicity push, researching other grant options and organising the Shelford Fun Run 2019. Which leads us nicely to the next question…
How can I help?
So pleased you asked!
This project desperately needs more funds, so whatever you can donate will be gratefully received.
Our target is to raise another £100k as quickly as possible!
- Pledge to raise a e.g. £1000 for us, by doing a sponsored challenge, or arranging cake sales over the year, or another personal initiative…
- Sign up to the Shelford Fun Run in September 2019 when registration opens in the spring
- Sign up to our newsletter for latest news
- Join the ‘friends of Shelford Playscape’ group on Facebook
- Put us in touch with any company that donates to local charities
- Sign-up as a volunteer to help us e.g. with leaflet drops, baking or volunteering on the day at the Shelford fun run
- Have an eBay auction clear out and donate funds to us
- Sign up to Give As You Live
- Send us any other brilliant Fundraising ideas!
Let’s do this Great Shelford!