Playscape – How the vision became a reality

6 years ago a group of volunteers decided something must be done about the lacklustre playground. Little did we know what a journey we’d undertaken!

The inclusive and inspiring Playscape you see now is the result of thousands of hours of community engagement, research, planning, designing and fundraising. Our guiding vision emerged slowly, through curiosity and collaboration, and by questioning assumptions around what a playground should be.

Picture of the Playscape playground

Play for all

Child in a wheelchair using the sandtray
This has been our motto from the start and it has been a delight to watch all ages and abilities play alongside each other and explore this new landscape. Wheelchair accessibility has been designed into the very fabric of this space, in places you might not notice, like the sand play, trampoline and roundabout.

Equipment has been chosen to be used in a myriad of ways, such as the hammocks that are accessible to wheelchair users (who can manage a standing transfer), or a gaggle of toddlers or a group of teenage friends. Crucially, all are welcome – parents and carers, you are positively encouraged to get stuck in and start playing! As Bernard Shaw said “you don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing”.

Risk and Challenge

We know that healthy development requires exposure to risk and challenge. The Playscape, by its very nature, offers a huge range of possibilities and challenges. For a new walker that might simply be summiting one of the mounds, for a 9 year old, can they do the monkey bars uphill, for a Grandparent, will they play on the roundabout again? Challenging ourselves physically and socially is what builds resilience, at any age.


Design & Construction Team
Architect: Erect Architecture
Landscape Design: Sophie O’Hara Smith & Studio BOSK
Quantity Surveyor & Contract Administrator: Building Perspectives Ltd
Engineer: Peter Dann Consulting Engineers
Contractor & Equipment: Duncan & Grove
Sign Graphic Design: Suzanne Morris


The Playscape was made possible through community fundraising events, generous donations and the support from these funding bodies:
Cambridge County Council Communities Fund, FCC Communities Foundation, Amey Communities Fund, South Cambs Zero Carbon grant, Scotsdales

Final Thanks

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the past and present Great Shelford Playscape committee members (all 16 of them!) for their hard work and dedication to this pioneering community project.

Group of people standing on a mound of grass

In particular, my thanks to Vaila Morrison who has supported us with her Architectural and social media expertise and who inspired us to make inclusive design a core aim. To Holly Barr, a founding member who now brilliantly heads up the Shelford Fun Run. To Jenny David who has been our event organiser extraordinaire, to Gwen Casazza for all her help with grant applications and to Susanna Repo and Marion Carey, for looking after our financial and charitable obligations so efficiently.

Our sincere thanks must also go to the Great Shelford Parish Council for supporting this vision, both financially and practically over the years, and specifically to Councillors Malcolm Watson, John Stanton and Simon Talbott and Clerk Libby White. They met with Vaila and I weekly over the last year to get this project across the line.

And to you!

And finally to all of you who responded to consultations, got sponsored for It’s A Knockout, did a bob-a-job in your neighbourhood, abseiled down the church, ran the Shelford Fun Run (numerous times!), ate cake, drunk mulled wine, donated generously and generally supported this whole initiative, we say THANK YOU. We did it!

Now, for the wheelscape – donations always welcome 🙂

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