Big investment in adventure playgrounds

Published: Thursday 27th September 12

The borough’s three adventure playgrounds are all about to undergo major refurbishment work before reopening in the Spring.

The playgrounds are all being modernised as part of an investment programme this winter of £500,000. New equipment is likely to include rope swings, chain ladders, aerial walkways, tube slides, scramble nets, zip wires and fireman's poles.   

The council is fully committed to providing exciting, challenging and modern play facilities for young people. This commitment to invest in the future comes at a time when many other local authorities are closing their adventure playgrounds down.
Each winter the three playgrounds close for maintenance work and at other times offer only restricted opening hours because the dark evenings mean that children cannot attend after school. The playgrounds always fully reopen each year in the Spring and will do so again as normal next Spring.

During the winter months Battersea Park's adventure playground will undergo a £200,000 refurbishment while the one at York Gardens will also benefit from a major facelift and the installation of brand new equipment. The playground at Kimber Road will undergo a £170,000 transformation into a new skateboarding venue, which we think will be enormously popular with local children and teenagers.

When they reopen early next year all three playgrounds will offer local young people a greater variety and choice of new and exciting play facilities, and all three will also be able to remain open for longer than was previously possible.

The changes do mean that staff will no longer be needed to supervise children and young people. Staff had to be on duty because the existing play equipment was not professionally manufactured or produced, and was instead largely DIY in nature, requiring adult supervision.

The staffing changes mean that local taxpayers will save around £386,000 each and every year. The council is having to reduce its spending by £70m as a result of the nation's economic difficulties, and in the current financial situation when frontline services need to be to prioritised, that high level of spending on adventure playgrounds is regrettably no longer sustainable.

Wandsworth manages more than 200 playgrounds and play areas in parks, commons and housing estates. Over the past four years £2.5 million has been spent on maintaining and improving these facilities for young people.

The town hall also provides a grant worth £125,000 a year to a local charity which provides an adventure playground on Wandsworth Common specifically aimed at children with disabilities.

The playgrounds will continue to be hugely popular with the children that use them. Last summer 92 per cent of visitors were aged under 12 with the biggest group of users (54 per cent) aged between five and eight. These children were almost always accompanied by parents or carers.

Children's services spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey said: "The council has an excellent track record of providing top quality play facilities for young people in Wandsworth and is committed to this continuing in the future.

 "We are investing heavily in improvements to our adventure playgrounds which are open to all young people to enjoy. At the same time, we are improving our support for disadvantaged children and young people who need extra help." 

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Recent comments

Seriously? a saving of 386,000? have you considered the following costs? Police patrols and arrests for anti social behavior, increase in ed welfare support for truants; no longer encouraged back to school by Playworkers. Increase of pressure on Social & mental health services in terms of support for vulnerable children and families previously cared for by playworkers. The cost to the NHS when dealing with unsupervised accidents previously dealt with by first aid trained staff. Cost to the benefit dept re: Play staff made redundant and now unemployed. Finally and most importantly the emotional and social cost to society, communities and individuals who need a friendly supportive face and a place to play in peace.
Danielle O'Shaughnessy

4 December 2012

Why don't you issue a Wandsworth play card, this means that families who pay their council tax to Wandsworth can use the playground for free, but people who lived in other boroughs could pay a nominal charge to use it.I think closing this in its current format is very short sighted, When we were there we talked to parents from every creed and socail class and all the kids just got on with it - truly the epitome of "The big society" that Mr Cameron is so fond of. Not only that, I noticed that a lot of the helpers were males, and studies have shown that teenagers without positive male role models can turn to crime, so whilst it might seem like a short term gain, what cost will really be incurred - also how much is it going to cost the country
David McCallum

1 October 2012

There is do much deceptive spin in the statement above that it's hard to know where to begin. This is not a 'major refurbishment'. It's a con perpetrated by out-of-touch local officials that don't know/remember the value of what they so eagerly seek to destroy. BP Adventure Playground has stood on its site for 40 years, and its popularity with children, like London's other 80 Adventure Playgrounds (which are NOT closing down), is its ability to evolve. Human's seek experimentation and that urge is even more profound in children. To rip out the existing structures and replace them with rigid, mass-produced ones is a huge mistake. The structures and expert staff on all 3 sites should not be snatched away from local children that need them.
Paul Hocker

1 October 2012

This picture is a lie. This is NOT what is happening at York Gardens or Kimber Road and is NOT what the 4000 signatories to a petition want. The Council is steamrolling this through, in order to make staff redundant, against the wishes of those who use the playgrounds. Sounds like dictatorship to me and also bad financial management. To save £280,000 staff costs, they plan to spend £500,000 and have not estimated other costs.
Jane Eades

1 October 2012

It would help to have the adventure playgrounds identified on a map.
Peter Duffy

29 September 2012

Having staff is not just about Health and safety it is about interacting with children in a space they mostly chose to be. A lot of PR stuff to cover up the fact that people's jobs are being sacrificed yet again by this council on the basis that the council has to make savings. It had reserves it could use and some projects that could be dropped.
Steve Blum

29 September 2012

Not much "adventure" in the equipment shown in the picture. Nothing for anyone over the age of 10 by the looks of it. All very tame and single file traffic only!
Celia Blair

29 September 2012

It would help if you linked this to the proposals themselves. Would that not make sense and be effortless to do? No mention that there was public opposition to these proposals? In fact, why was there such opposition to a 'great' plan of investment?
Ed Lattimore

27 September 2012