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Southleigh Park, Emsworth, Hampshire

Client: Southleigh Park Recreation Improvement Group (SPRIG)

Cost: £62,000

Date: Completed December 2011

Genre: Landscape, Community, Youth

Local Residents Succeed in Creating Exciting New Playground


A group of parents in Emsworth, Hampshire, have seen several years of hard work and fundraising pay off with the opening of a new park that has ‘delighted’ local children. Local residents formed the Southleigh Park Recreation Improvement Group (SPRIG) in 2009 with the intention of improving local parks in Emsworth, assisted by Havant Borough Council. Their recently opened flagship park, at Hollybank Recreation Ground, features exciting new play elements.

“Our new play area is a great success and we couldn’t be more delighted with the results,” says Sarah Taylor, Chair of SPRIG. “The big boat is a particular favourite already with children of all ages undertaking imaginative play.”

“Sutcliffe Play undertook the work in an extremely professional and helpful way; they were quick to respond to any query and offered additional activities such as the children’s participation sessions (which the children loved!),” Sarah adds. “In short we are bowled over with the end result.  Not one person has commented that they would rather have the old park back – that’s been long since forgotten!”


Sutcliffe Play was involved with the second phase of the SPRIG project, which involved regenerating an out-dated children’s playground dating from 1973.

We were challenged to create a themed, stimulating play space with a mix of playground equipment and landscape features. Separate equipment was required for children aged 0 – 6 and 6 – 12 years.

Paul Hurst, Project Officer for Havant Borough Council, says the project has been an “outstanding success story.” He adds: “SPRIG commenced with not a penny in the bank, but with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve. Success is visible in the innovative play equipment that is bringing people to the park from local areas and beyond. The park is now buzzing with happy children, parents and carers.”

Design and Build

SPRIG held a consultation meeting to decide on the theme for the play area and Sutcliffe Play also organised a series of ‘Construction Day’ sessions with local children, during which the children donned hard hats and visibility jackets and visited the site several times throughout the construction process, allowing them to take ‘ownership’ of the site. The proposed design featured imaginative equipment such as a pirates’ cove complete with a play ship.



Playground Equipment:

The main feature is the popular wooden play ship. Other elements include a long tunnel and a V-shaped rope bridge. Natural play boulders and scramble logs were also incorporated into the design.

3m Long Tunnel: This tunnel adds an extra dimension to the playground and is irresistible to children of all ages.

Inclusive Dish Roundabout: One of Sutcliffe Play’s most inclusive items, this rotating dish can be used for very fast, dynamic play. The rocking and rotating motion, combined with the good body support and security given by the dish shape, make this piece of play equipment accessible to all. The angle of the dish and its height make side transfer possible and minimise the lifting required by helpers.

Kinderland Red Play Ship: A focal point of the playground, this large play ship offers an exciting and imaginative play space for children and encourages social play.

Style Swing 1.8m High with 1 x Bumper Seat: Produced for over 20 years, Sutcliffe Play’s swings are very robust as they are manufactured using hot dipped galvanised steel. The bumper seat has smooth, rounded edges, ergonomically designed to help children learn to swing.

Kinderland Stilts x5: These stilts help children to develop balance and coordination.

Cats Cradle Minizone Unit: Created especially for children aged 1 – 4, Minizone blends play and learning. This Minizone unit is a two tower unit with a suspension connecting bridge and encourages chasing games in addition to developing balancing skills. A steering wheel and revolving binoculars, which give the hint of a ship, facilitate further imaginative games.

SMB Small Trampoline: Trampolines are ideal for encouraging physical play and developing coordination. 


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