Review of Play Opportunities  

All children and young people, including those who are disabled or have specific needs, should have opportunities to experience challenge and take risks while playing.

Play is essential to the healthy development of children and young people – not just their physical development, but their social and cognitive development too.

If we agree with any of these statements (or not) then we are beginning to shape our ideas around play. If we are going to redevelop the play opportunities in the park then it stands to reason that whatever we do needs to support these ideas to some degree. We may not be the best people to say what the play opportunities should look like. That shouldn’t worry us – we can’t always have all of the answers. We have a lot of people around us who can help us find these answers:

Kirklees Council – it goes without saying that we will need the support and help of the Council from the outset on many different levels: a partnership in development. However, I can find nothing in what the Council has written (although I haven’t seen the recent document that is under discussion) that runs counter to any ideas offered here. Let’s first of all sort out our ideas and then ask the Council what they think of them (rather than wait for the Council to tell us what we can do/can’t do).

Local community: what do people think of what is already there? How could it be improved in their view? Similarly for local schools – a number of which already use the park – and other voluntary organisations.

Children and Young People – these are the people who will be making the most of the opportunities (if we get it right) or not (if we don’t).

What do we think of this (from “Design for Play” Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2006)

The 10 principles for designing successful play spaces
Successful play spaces…
_ are ‘bespoke’
_ are well located
_ make use of natural elements
_ provide a wide range of play experiences
_ are accessible to both disabled and non-disabled children
_ meet community needs
_ allow children of different ages to play together
_ build in opportunities to experience risk and challenge
_ are sustainable and appropriately maintained
_ allow for change and evolution.

Read more:
Design for Play: a guide to creating successful play spaces
Embedding the Play Strategy – draft guidance to local authorities on sustaining improvements and planning the development of provision and space for children and young people’s play and informal recreation
Framework for Play in Kirklees 2007-2012
Upping the Stakes – a play policy for Kirklees 2010

David Lowe
October 2016