The Ramsbury Playgrounds Regeneration Project

Ramsbury-Play-Grounds
Ramsbury Play Grounds

RAMSBURY & AXFORD PLAY AREAS IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

Background information on the redevelopment of the three playgrounds which was completed in July 2014.

Delivered by Amanda Horner (volunteer Project Manager and Charity Chair) and Ron Young (Ramsbury & Axford Parish Council).

The Parish of Ramsbury and Axford is located in the county of Wiltshire, United Kingdom. Ramsbury and Axford is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

The Parish of Ramsbury and Axford has three dedicated playground sites. Within the Parish there is a Primary School, Pre-school and Toddler group who make use of the facilities for play and recreation. The sites are approximately 40 years old and have been maintained by the Parish Council and volunteers within the community. Historically when council funds are available the expense of covering three sites has resulted in the purchase of small items of new equipment, older items were refurbished and even recycled from the primary school.

Many items of equipment were at end of life, the existing (but necessary) ad-hoc approach to playground improvement had resulted in an unstructured layout and multiple small items of equipment. Due to their end-of-life state, it is believed many current and potential users are not using the grounds.

A need for the provision of community exercise equipment for less able senior citizens in the nearby retirement village has also been identified.

Combining outdoor exercise equipment for children and senior citizens will have the dual benefit of encouraging more community engagement between these age groups, reducing isolation as well as the associated health benefits of promoting an active lifestyle within these age groups.

Evidence

• Many items of playground equipment including park bench were damaged or worn out
• Wood climbing steps were rotten and nearing end of life
• All sites poorly designed and uninspiring for imaginative play
• Needs gap identified: sports facilities available for older children and adults but omitted for younger children or less able senior citizens
• Rural England Village Report “Ramsbury Playgrounds in need of repair”
• Almost half of children spend more than three hours a day watching television or playing computer games
• More than 1 in 10 spend at least five hours or more a day watching television or playing computers
• More than one-third of children never play outside

Project Aim

Healthier, more active people and communities through the provision of public play and exercise equipment that will improve the rural environment for social inclusion of elderly local residents, adults and children.

The playground refurbishments were undertaken in three Phases and entirely dependent on available grants and funding.

Phase 1 Ashleigh Piece playground (Ramsbury)
Phase 2 Knowledge cresant (Ramsbury)
Phase 3 Axford playground (Axford)

Each of these playgrounds was developed separately with local community input. Each was created in a safe area and contains various play equipment which meets state safety standards, all specifically designed for the appropriate age groups.

Outcomes

• Improved range of existing and new community equipment, leading to clear increase in healthy activity
• Older and more vulnerable residents feel less isolated through engagement in new community activities and younger age groups.
• Residents will report an increased sense of community and pride through an improved rural environment

Scope

• Devising an Improvement Plan for the provision, upgrading and maintenance of play equipment in the public play areas in Ramsbury & Axford
• Raising public interest and awareness in the Improvement Plan
• Raising funds to enable the implementation of the Improvement Plan
• Design and build of the new playgrounds
• Cooperating with other interested parties (including but not limited to Ramsbury & Axford Parish Council, Ramsbury Primary School, Ramsbury Pre-School and Ramsbury Toddlers Group) in achieving the Aims and Objectives of RAMPIAG

Exclusions

• Development and build of the new Pre-school although this group will benefit from RAMPAIG deliverables
• The proposed Ramsbury Skateboard Park, the site location was under seperate  community consultation

Approach

A 2 year plan with a phased approach to site upgrades and decision on delivery options based on funding opportunities.

Key Activities

• Form core team
• Approve constitution
• Open bank account

• Develop and implement communications plan
• Launch iPlayOutside.co.uk web site (temporary). The objective of the web site was to host publically available surveys, project information, reports, accept donations by PayPal and provide contact information.
• Survey: Playground Needs Assessment. The Survey Objective is to confirm the requirement of playground refurbishment, phasing of work and engage the stakeholders and community
• Promotion: Promote survey in Gazette & Herald, school, Parish magazine and leaflet neighbourhoods surrounding the playgrounds
• Request for quotes from equipment suppliers
• Site design
• Apply for grants and secure funding
• Survey: Playground Equipment
• Plan installation
• Site build
• Sites complete

Deliverables

• An Improvement Plan for the provision, upgrading and maintenance of play equipment in the public play areas in Ramsbury & Axford
• Funding to secure project objectives
• Design and build of the new playgrounds

Constraints

• Significant playground refurbishments are entirely dependent on successful grants applications and funding.
• The new preschool will be running a fundraising campaign in parallel possibly diluting funding pool
• Challenging financial environment

Communications

Leafleting those affected by the change
Email list to communicate updates
Open forums at Parish Council to discuss the change
A permanent display in the local Post Office & Primary School
We made use of Social Media and our Town Crier
Maintained an email list which communicated regular progress updates
The Local Pre-School and Primary School were given regular updates
Progress was reported monthly to the Parish Council and recorded in PC minutes
We put up posters in the local shop and Post office.

 

Deviations from Scope

Re-cycle and re-use of existing equipment – we were planning to reuse certain play equipment (including a toddler swing) but, on closer examination, the upright posts were found to be rotten below ground level and we were advised that re-use would pose an unwarranted health and safety risk. The equipment was instead repurposed as timber and was recycled by local people for various projects (eg in gardens). We were able to re-use and repair a see-saw and the existing rubber safety matting.

We had hoped to use a local supplier but, at the point of contract negotiations and final planning, the team felt the local option did not provide best value. We did however use local services to provide landscaping and ground works to the site.

Summary

There had been some limited disappointment expressed that the equipment was not more adventurous, it was explained that we have had to accommodated the requirements of both sites, local residents and Aster who own the land  and as a consequence we have effectively replaced what was there with more substantial equipment with a little variation.

We had planned to include more adventurous equipment on this site to cater for a larger age range but were forced to modify our plans at the last minute in order to accommodate the concerns of a local resident who raised complaints late in the process. As this resident was an Aster housing association member and Aster are the freeholders of the land in question, it was agreed by all parties to scale down our plans to alleviate their concerns (primarily centring on privacy and fears of public disorder).

 

The play towers height was significantly reduced and the larger equipment, which we had already contracted to source from the supplier

(and which had been separately funded by the Parish Council & MAB) was eventually installed on another existing play site in the village.

 

Local residents at both sites are happy and have generously provided power and water to the  contractor Playscape during construction.

Reviews

“few of the Scouts (year 6’s) heard enthusing about the new equipment and even arguing over which was now better – KC or Whittonditch!” Ramsbury Scout Leader
“How nice it was to have seating there it means I can tag along with the grandchildren” Resident
“Amazing, thank you the old equipment was so rotten” Resident