Play Pathfinder project takes shape

Think back to when you were a child. What memories do you have of playing outside? We tend not to remember playing on concrete and the metal climbing frames commonly associated with play areas today.

In a move away from the typical play areas, Hackney Council has recently renovated 12 play spaces across the borough as part of Year 1 of its Play Pathfinder project.

Funded by the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), enhanced by investment from the Council, the project aims to reintroduce risk and natural elements in play space provision to make sure they are really good open and inclusive spaces for Hackney children.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Playing is a way for children to explore and learn about the world, as well as the more obvious benefit of exercise. We look forward to the continued involvement of local people in planning the Phase 2 play areas, where children can enjoy themselves in a way that also supports their learning in a safe environment.”

The play areas have been delivered by a partnership of agencies, including Hackney Homes, Hackney Parks Department and Renaisi, led by the Learning Trust.
Play England’s ‘Design for Play’ has been used as guidance for the new play areas. This has led to a number of innovative and attractive play spaces incorporating natural elements, such as fallen trees, boulders and sand areas, as well as using changes in levels where possible.

Each design is specific to the chosen site. The locations were decided following a public consultation process, an analysis of the level of need in the area and with the views of a Playlink expert.

For more information about the Play Pathfinder project in Hackney email Matt Davies:

Details of Phase 1 sites:

Melbourne Gardens
A large green courtyard in the Clapton Park Estate has been improved with net swing, better climbing area and wobble dishes. New landscaping, softening of play spaces and planting were included.

Butterfield Green Stream
The stream is now back, bubbling away, with a new bridge across it and a water pump for children to enjoy playing in water.

Fortune Close Square, Nye Bevan Estate
New play structures with platforms and bridges, mounds and climbing logs have been added to the older play equipment, which has also been refurbished. At the centre is a new seating area for families to sit and enjoy the space.

Trowbridge Village Green
A new play structure rises up above the pathway creating a bridge with seating and climbable structures inside. The old play area has been opened up and added to with adventurous tunnels. Mounds and logs also create new play space that is about challenge and adventure.

Lea View House
In the inner courtyard of Lea View Estate is a new play area with natural play equipment - a slide made out of a tree, shelter space, a trampoline set in the ground, pingpong table, and logs and rocks for climbing and drawing on.

Jackman Street
The park behind Broadway Market has reopened with new landscaped features, climbable trees, sand and bark pits and large tyre swing set in the expanded play area.

Portelet Court, de Beauvoir Estate
The sunken grass courtyard has been transformed into a natural playable space with a large climable structure, slide-off mounds, wobble dish balance beams and large net swing.

Buxton Court / Windsor Court play area
This small neighbourhood play space has a refurbished aeroplane climbing frame, grassed area with sand and benches for families and children to rest and play.

Tullis Court, Frampton Park Estate
A new garden in the courtyard at the heart of Frampton Park estate has a sand pit and boulders, climbing trees and a net swing, plus a new play garden for all the family to enjoy.

Cranston play area
The old play area in the middle of Cranston Park estate has had a makeover, with new exciting timber structures built around the old equipment. There s also a ping-pong table under sa heltered structure, new ball games area and a water pump for children to play with water.

Sandford Court
This small estate play area only had a picnic table. It s now been made more exciting with net swing and seating area for families and children to enjoy the space.

Clapton Square Park Play area
The play area in Clapton Park square has been extended with new play equipment, sculptures, water features, mounds and exciting play opportunities for children of different ages.