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I want to improve my local playground- ADVICE NEEDED

(25 Posts)
gallery Wed 26-Aug-09 21:31:12

Hi everyone, not a clue where to post this one and thought I would try this thread. Myself and another local mom want to improve our local play area. It is pretty basic - 2 swings amd 2 little rocking horses. At least we have an area (my sister lives in a larger town in Ireland with no play area at all). So not complaining, just asking for improvement. The local committee in charge have said they welcome our opinion and please come with some proposals. I had a chat with the chair and he suggested I brought some photos of what we want. So help please, has anyone done this before (campaigned for improvement) and also has anyone looked at or got some recommendations we could aspire to for a good playground for pre school (there is another play area suitable for 7 yearish up)

LoveMyGirls Wed 26-Aug-09 21:36:06

What about a wooden boat?
this type of thing

IME all kids, of all ages love boats and they are something a bit different to your normal playground.

There is a park nearish to me that has a car on springs that all the dc's seem to love too it also has a wavy slide though it's a bit high for the little ones.

LoveMyGirls Wed 26-Aug-09 21:37:17

on this page nearish the bottom on the left is a castle with a wavy slide but the details won't come up for some reason, but that looks brilliant fun

LoveMyGirls Wed 26-Aug-09 21:39:48

A cheap idea is drain pipes zig zagging so that balls can be rolled down them although children would have to bring their own balls because you can't expect to leave balls in a public playground and not have them stolen sadly.

CMOTdibbler Wed 26-Aug-09 21:50:29

An accessible roundabout like this would be great as v easy to use for everyone, plus no way of trapping. Their wide slide for two to go down is nice too.

DS really enjoyed playing in a hammock swing like this and the website has loads of other ideas

Katymac Wed 26-Aug-09 21:53:46

Be careful that you source commercial toys not domestic ones because of the pli

snickersnack Wed 26-Aug-09 22:01:37

Check out England My MIL recently organised a campaign to improve their local playground (she is amazing!) and I think she had quite a lot of help from them. At the very least worth looking at their website as they have lots of guidance on "best practice", which seems to change fairly frequently.

Good luck!

snickersnack Wed 26-Aug-09 22:28:54

Sorry - try Play England

nannynick Wed 26-Aug-09 22:39:29

In the UK there are a number of commercial playground suppliers. Those I can think of off the top of my head are:


You can request product catalogues from these companies, plus find some of their products online.

Surfacing is a major cost. When looking at equipment you will be able to find out what the Critical Fall Height of that equipment is... that will determine the depth of the surfacing needed. There are various types of surfacing, ranging from Sand to Wet Pour. When looking at surfacing consider the daily/weekly maintenance it needs and the cost of repairs, consider animal activity.

There is a large tradeshow coming up - IOG SALTEX held in Windsor 8-10 Sept 2009. While not aimed specifically at the playground market, several of the companies above usually attend - also providers of playground surfacing and general landscaping.

The problem I suspect you will have is money... what budget do you have? The costs of commercial playground equipment is a lot more than the stuff you would get for your back garden.

Do you need commercial grade, or can you get away with something a bit lower? If the playground does not have public access... then your insurer may not require you to have commercial grade equipment. Look into the insurance side of things... look into what access the playground has, such as when the pre-school isn't open. Also look into any requirements there are by the pre-school regulator (Ofsted if in England - does EYFS specify outdoor equipment suitability... not sure it does: "Outdoor and indoor spaces, furniture, equipment and toys must be safe and suitable for their purpose" - suitable for their purpose I feel is open to interpretation.

Consider the provision of shade. Many playgrounds in my view lack shade.

Playground Safety - ROSPA are good to contact for advice. They have downloadable leaflets plus provide consultancy services.

gallery Thu 27-Aug-09 07:50:49

thanks everyone for your input lots of ideas and web addresses for me to look at. I will let you know how I get on- the meeting is mid September so i have some time to do my research. I was even dreaming about this in my sleep

gallery Thu 27-Aug-09 07:54:40

oh and I should add, the area is open to public access, it is not purely for pre school, it will be open to all. However there is another area open to public access a 10 minute walk away which is adjacent to the school and more suitable for school age. So I was hoping we could target this as a pre school play area. I suspect in the interests of equity, when I start to do my research, I will have to propose equipment suitable for older children too. I appreciate all the info about surfacing from nannynick

OhYouBadBadKitten Thu 27-Aug-09 08:27:41

gallery - fab advice from nannynick. I've found that very, very roughly, the equipment cost tends to be about a third of the total cost with installation and surfacing comprising the rest.

If you have a rough budget in mind, phone the sales dept of the various companies she has posted. They will come round and talk to you about the options available.

You don't have to appeal to a wider age range necessarily, but it does really help to think about disability access. Also in your proposal it does really help if you can demonstrate a need and how this will address the need.

I wouldn't necessarily go in with ideas for funding yet (though it wouldn't harm for you to research them and have them up your sleeve for the meeting) See what the local committee come up with before you offer them an easy out of you having to find all the funding (grants are slow and v. paperworkish)

abra1d Thu 27-Aug-09 08:48:45

I built a playground for our village with another mother some eight years back. Although the children are very young, it's important that you ask them what they would like. We always canvas opinion when we change equipment, even from the youngest members.

At the moment a cradle swing is likely to be our new piece of equipment: useful for babies and teenagers alike.

Saying the equipment is aimed at children with special needs will almost certainly get you a grant these days. Disability is the buzz word for playground funding.

HeliumBee Sun 30-Aug-09 16:35:44

This all sounds brillant - I'm also doing something similar at the moment - we have budget from Playbuilder and are at consultation stage. I'd love to set up a group about playgrounds to share our knowldge - anyone else interested? Facebook perhaps or Yahoo?

Filmbuffmum Sun 30-Aug-09 16:42:47

I am involved in our village playground committee which has also recently been granted some Playbuilder money, and grants from other local sources. We had a lovely session at the local primary school where we got kids to draw ideas and talk about what kinds of activities they enjoyed, as well as running a Play Day on the current site. Some links on the village website at Would be happy to see a yahoo group or similar for trading ideas.

purepurple Sun 30-Aug-09 16:45:52

This park is very close to where I live and has made a real difference to local children, including mine.
local campaign

gallery Sun 30-Aug-09 16:53:17

am very impressed, I can see I need to get my project manager hat on and think about this a little more carefully, I love the idea about asking the local primary school

UniS Mon 31-Aug-09 22:51:50

Fund raise lots and lots and lots of money, You have to pay VAT on playground kit, and safety surface stuff is fierce expensive too.

gallery Tue 15-Sep-09 11:49:32

I have a meeting with the local committee next week to talk about what we can do- thanks for advice, we are taking photos of other local play areas and also I have looked at play england. I will keep you posted after the session to say how it all goes.

gallery Thu 24-Sep-09 13:16:51

Update - I went to the local committee who maintain the area. It is also used for sports etc so the play area is just a small part of it. The meeting itself was about the worst I have ever been to. I have not been so condescended to and little ladied for many years.
Apart from that....they are sympathetic to having an improvement but would not do any fund raising. Myself and the other mom would have to do it. I was a little disheartened to walk in the door and have a funding source list thrust at me.
Moving on, I need some more advice, Heliumbee and Filmbuffmum, could you contact me (email if easier as I have opened up for contact) with some details on how you got your playbuild money. I am not optimistic as I have spoken to my local council and they said there is no chance of development funding for my area, but they will help me with seeking funding. I am also wanting to put a proposal to my parish council and going to a meeting next Thurs so need some broad budget ideas. Has anyone got a recent budget with equipment prices and surfacing, installation costs, ground preparation etc they could share? I can see this is the beginning of a long haul for me. I can also (thanks Nannynick) ring some of the companies before Thurs but I am away at weekend and then away on business next week so not a lot of time to spend on my proposal for parish council next week

MrsMuddle Thu 24-Sep-09 14:06:16

You might also want to try nike. Some years ago, they gave out grants to improve play areas. I was involved through the job I was in at the time, but I have a memory like a goldfish, so I can't remember any more details.

Good luck.

PS You might need to register as a charity to be able to access funding streams.

southeastastra Thu 24-Sep-09 14:10:45

gallery there has been massive playbuilding funding from play england. maybe your council didn't get the bid in quickly enough. have you spoken to the parks department at your local council?

Hassled Thu 24-Sep-09 14:11:18

There are grants kicking around for playgrounds - the RBS Supergrounds is one, but that seems to be specific for schools. But someone in your local LA should be able to advice.

gallery Fri 25-Sep-09 09:41:57

The local council play development officer rang me and said no chance of funding for my area. My area recently got funding for a multi games use area which will knock us out of the loop for any for play areas. He also said that there are other more deprived areas in my locality which would get it first. I will ask specifically about playbuild but I did think that they had probably got the cash and just allocated it already.
Thanks all, I appreciate you taking the time to help

gallery Thu 15-Oct-09 12:47:27

a quick update, i have secured my first funding money- £2k from the local parish council and they are going to write some letters for me to some funding pots they know of. I have a company coming to give me an estimate next week- they gave me a preliminary estimate already so I had a target cost for discussion. And the other mom is also beavering away trying to get info from other local people who have secured funding successfully. I still think it will be a long haul but can see a path way through

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