Mepal playful landscapeThis is the second post in a series on projects to create playful landscapes, this one located in Mepal, near Ely, in Cambridgeshire.

This play landscape was created within an existing play area on the edge of the village recreation ground. Adjoining this was an area of overgrown woodland/scrub, with a seasonal pond, used to drain the playing fields next door. I was commissioned by the Parish Council to design and specify the new landscape.

The Parish Council held an extensive consultation process to discuss early ideas and this informed the final design. It was decided to retain elements of the existing play area (2 slides and a couple of climbing frames). The brief was to devise a broadly-based play experience for children of all ages that made use of the woodland and pond if possible, and had some features just for younger children. The budget was c£50,000, funded by the Government Playbuilder Programme and other local fundraising.

The final design features the thinning of the woodland to create greater natural play potential, and includes a new tree house structure with a bridge to a mound as well as restoring the pond to be a shallow, usable play feature.

An informal hedge of native species was also planted to provide greater definition to the play area, as well as increase biodiversity, and additional turfed mounding and bark surfacing was introduced to provide landscape variety.

Some old equipment was removed, and a new basket swing and cableway introduced. There is also a new sand and water play feature for toddlers with logs for climbing or sitting on. The Playful Landscape was completed in June 2010.

Other posts of relevance:

Natural Play- ten tips for parents

Natural play – by design?

Playful Landscape- Wensum Way, Fakenham, Norfolk

‘Free range’ children?-  seven tips for successful garden play

Old School Gardener

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