BY JAMES TWOMEY
A new natural playground will be built in Greenwich Park. It will cater for less-agile children who otherwise might feel excluded.
The Royal Parks is about to begin building a playground in the historic landscape.
The final phase of the £350,000 playground will begin this month with completion expected in early June.
Vivien Davies is a community group organiser. She said: “Greenwich Park is such a big part of our lives. We explore it together as a family, discovering its history, nature-watching and going for walks. It’s a great escape from our pressurised, urban lives.
“Being able to use a play space that is accessible is essential. It means our daughter can enjoy all the exciting opportunities there and play with other children rather than just watching them having fun from the sidelines.
“She has difficulties with her co-ordination but the design of this playground means she can push her boundaries safely, practice her movement skills, take risks and enjoy the sensory opportunities of sand and water, trees and plants.
“Above all she can join in creative and imaginative play with other children, and make new friends. All this would be difficult in a less inclusive space.”
The playground will follow a maritime theme reflecting the nautical roots of Greenwich Park as a World Heritage Site.
Features of the playground include a basket swing, roundabout, and plenty of sand and water play with elements that are positioned both at ground level and in raised channels of varying height, in order to allow disabled and able-bodied children to play together.
The project was given a boost of £315,000 from The London Marathon Charitable Trust with the remaining cost being funded by The Royal Parks, the charity which manages Greenwich Park.
Joe Thompson, from The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: We are delighted to provide a grant towards improvements to Greenwich Park playground and the delivery of a play programme in partnership with London Play, local schools and organisations such as Greenwich Parents Voice.
“The project will transform play opportunities for children and families in one of London’s best-loved parks. The Play Programme focuses on encouraging imaginative and social play among children of all ages and abilities, with a particular focus on engaging the most deprived local communities who may have limited access to green space.
“The trust’s mission is to challenge inequality of access to physical activity by funding projects which enable people to become and remain physically active regardless of age, gender, ability, race or background.”
Graham Dear, manager of Greenwich Park, said: “We’re working with the community and local partners to transform Greenwich Park for everyone to enjoy.
“This exciting new play space will give all children a chance to have fun with their friends, while exploring and discovering nature, in a historical setting.
“We’ve worked with local parents to hear what they’d like to see in their children’s play areas, and we’ve responded by incorporating those views into designs that are inclusive and engaging for all youngsters.
“We’re also hosting a series of broader public engagement events where we’re inviting all locals and regular park visitors to come and share their views on our proposals, to help us shape the park’s future.
“People can find out more by going to royalparks.org.uk/gpr.”