Meadow Road Park play area was in need of redevelopment after the existing play equipment had exceeded its lifespan and was removed due to becoming unsafe. As part of wider regeneration plans for Kettering town centre, the opportunity arose to create a destination park which would be attractive and accessible to all ages, helping to attract additional footfall to the area.
The brief outlined requirements for the playground design to make the most of the natural camber of the park, while ensuring the whole site was both inclusive and challenging for children of all ages and abilities.
Public consultations about the plans included an information event hosted in the town centre, an online survey and focus groups with primary school children. This promoted the park plans and allowed feedback from the local community who would benefit most from the new play park.
The play park has been transformed into an immersive environment designed to stimulate the senses and engage children in outdoor play.
We worked closely with Kettering Borough Council to meet the specific needs for the project, including tailoring equipment to incorporate the slope of the site into the design, whilst ensuring it was accessible to all with the use of linking sweeping paths.
At the centre of the new play area, the custom-built ‘The Pier’ unit, dominates the landscape, covering an area measuring 119.6m2. Inclusive play was a key element of the project and The Pier widely incorporates this theme with flat ramps into the main play space flanked with numerous interactive panels. The Pier also features an inclusive ‘drag and access’ ramps and a specially designed accessible slide. Further elements including a fireman’s pole, ring climber and scramble net create endless opportunities for energetic play. The interactive puzzle panels, binoculars and music pipes further stimulate the senses and encourage social engagement.
Adjacent to the main play structure, we created two zones for both toddlers and juniors. The largest of the Minizone range, Twin View combines two towers connected by a ‘humpback bridge’ to encourage chasing games and social and fantasy play across the unit. Windows, mirrors and a pair of binoculars give imaginative play opportunities and encourage interaction. Twin view is joined by a single point swing and Whirlybob roundabout.
Additional Inclusive play equipment completes the new play area, including a back to back roundabout, car rocker, single point swing and a nest swing. Designed specially to take several young people with special needs, the nest swing is designed like a bird’s nest and constructed of steel rope matting to offer additional support for users.
“As a town centre regeneration project which has introduced half a kilometres worth of new footpaths, lighting, benches and other key community infrastructure, the pressure was on to get widely inclusive, high impact, top quality play equipment. With a view to longer term maintenance budgets, it had to be strong and robust too.
When we started this project of installing a new bespoke play are into a sloping site flowing downhill, I had some real reservations. But now all the kit is ‘terraced in’ its just adds some much extra value. The bespoke Pier you did for us now sits centre stage and adds so much gravitas and shouts that his is a proper adventure playground.
Of course Covid has hammered footfall but those who have ventured in there has just been so wowed by the whole site. Big thanks to all at Sutcliffe for making this a really awesome destination play park, the play area has totally transformed the park and been a huge and immediate hit.”
Dave Lane – Senior Community Officer. Grounds Services. Kettering Borough Council