active play

and types of motion (e.g. sliding, climbing, balancing) and on creating a landscape in which active play is encouraged (through land- forming and planting). LUC appreciates that children play longer

when carers are comfortable. Secure, self- closing gates will provide peace of mind, tree- planting will provide shade, while benches, logs and boulders will provide rest for children and carers alike. Limited budgets mean that each piece of play equipment must provide the maximum play value – this means finding pieces that allow as many children, with the widest range of age and ability, to do as many things with them as possible. Providing smooth accessible routes around each playground allows children in wheelchairs to engage with the play, and wherever possible accessible play equipment, such as the basket swing, has been included in the schemes. Children are instinctively curious so LUC has designed the four play spaces to translate this curiosity into movement by creating narrow winding pathways connecting different play opportunities and making maximum use of trees, mounds and slopes, planting and long grass to encourage use and exploration of the whole place, not just the play equipment. Aware that there can be no increase in


maintenance costs due to financial pressures facing councils, LUC selects only extremely robust long-lived shrubs for playground planting, and specifies the most durable play pieces. LUC proposes to offset the additional maintenance that greater visitor numbers would require by leaving areas of uncut meadow grass (reducing lawn mowing) with narrow mown paths to encourage exploration, providing close-up and sensory connection with nature. “We know the environment plays a key role

in increasing physical activity. With this project we wanted to create exciting new play areas which inspire children and families to be more active. The project has been successful in

engaging a large number of residents in the design phase. Our approach ensures that the council and community work closely to maximise the benefits of investment in the borough,” says councillor Samia Chaudhary, cabinet member of green policy and leisure. Building of the new play spaces will begin

early next year with completion expected in spring. Hounslow Council is partnering with St. Mary’s University who will conduct a research project to evaluate and measure impact of the project.

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