Monday, 1 June 2015

Playground without a view

There is a nice new playground opened up by Woking Leisure Centre which we went to try out the other day.  Sand, great slides, seating, swings and climbing frame.  Sounds idyllic doesn't it. However, I suspect the person who planned this whole thing is a mid-twenties man with no children.  Why?  Well, it has just too many places you can't see your children. It also has too many entry/exit points (behind the bits you can't see your children) and they also suspected that children would use the steps to one side of the slides rather than the grass - well, dirt now, bit the other side on a steep hill.  Another nice touch are the boulders at the base of a little steep bit of path.


Now, don't get me wrong, I lived in the days when all we had under our swings and monkey bars was good, hard concrete.  If you fell off, you hurt yourself.  You therefore tried not to fall off again but it didn't stop us playing on the equipment. Our playground was not enclosed.  We often walked in or landed on a pile of dog poo - and yes, it was as unpleasant then as it is now. So, as you can see, I'm used to a bit of danger around so I wondered if I'm too concerned about some of these things? My girls love the playground.  Despite our protestations, they ran up (and slipped a bit on) the steep hill to get to the two whizzy slides.  They loved the big round swing, and tried to climb up that weird frame that they have at these places (clearly designed for much older children than would use the playground as they just don't have small enough spaces between the ropes for young children to reach - so they wandered into the spiders web!) and they even tried the pointless tree climbing (4 'steps' screwed on to a pole pretending to be a tree). They had fun.


So, my big gripe is the amount of gates and lack of vision.  It's fine if there are two of you, but not if you're on your own and your children want to do two different things (as you could hear from the protests of many children there being told to 'stay with little Johnnie here as I can't see you other there'.


So, next time you're planning a playground. Ask the people who know what makes a good design - the parents!

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