active play

Hounslow Active Spaces is an exciting new project which aims to promote the benefits of outdoor play and physical activity.

CREATING active environments is one of the commitments in Hounslow Council’s new 10 year plan for physical activity, which aims to address health inequalities by reducing the number of inactive residents by half by 2025. This is an ambitious target but one the council believes can be achieved in partnership with both local and national delivery partners. Whilst many playgrounds are closing owing

to pressures on parks budgets (see PAF September issue), Hounslow Council is working to highlight that you can still achieve innovative, high quality, design-led playgrounds amidst the current challenges facing local authorities. Hounslow Council has partnered with multi-

award winning architects LUC to design four inspiring new Active Spaces at existing playground sites in the borough. The Active Spaces project aims to encourage children and their families to be more active, promoting usage, community involvement and participation. LUC is a specialist in play and landscape

design, with unique play environments designed for children and young people across the UK. Award-winning projects include Tumbling Bay in the Olympic Park, a challenging natural play space for children of all ages and abilities, and the much-loved Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. The borough of Hounslow has the eighth highest proportion of green space in London,

offering local residents easy access to outdoor activities. But increasing pressure on parks budgets in recent years has meant that some play areas have become tired and in need of refurbishment. To rectify this, the council is investing £1.1m in 2017/18 to improve selected sites across the borough. The impact of the local environment on

health is widely discussed and increasingly understood, along with enhanced benefits of outdoor physical activity. Responding to statistics charting the rise in childhood obesity in the UK, the project focuses on children and families and aims to support residents to be more physically active in their day to day lives. Research indicates that increased physical

activity amongst children is supported by increased participation of their families, carers and the local community. Parents, carers and

local community organisations were invited to take part in a series of design led engagement activities which took place during the summer with residents also encouraged to feedback via online questionnaires and via social media. A total of 12 events took place led by

experienced play designers. Engagements were designed to be fun and informative with games and activities for children alongside healthy eating and physical activity advice for families provided by Hounslow’s integrated health and wellbeing service, OneYou Hounslow. LUC’s landscape architects worked closely

with the council and the community throughout the design phase to ensure that challenges were addressed and the community’s needs were met. Interactive workshops with school children and a design competition gave local pupils the opportunity to influence and inspire playground designs. Challenging climbing equipment, monkey bars and activity trails were just some of the activities suggested. Jennette Emery-Wallis, director of

Landscape Architecture at LUC, believes that the issues facing local authorities can be addressed through the design process so that real impact can be achieved. LUC’s starting point for designing play is the child: the question is ‘what experiences do we want each child to have in this play space?’ The focus is on movement; active routes (explorer paths) 35

Images: LUC

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