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Natural Play in Enfield

Client: Enfield Council

Cost: £35,000

Date: 01/03/2009

Genre: Landscape, Community, Youth

A natural place to play

People living in the London borough of Enfield are learning to combine imaginative play with an appreciation of nature thanks to a new community recreation facility.

Great care has been taken to ensure that recently opened Durants Park, designed and installed by play specialists Sutcliffe Play, reflects its natural surroundings and encourages children to use their imagination, unrestricted by traditional equipment and free to think and act as they want.

Whether it is playing courageously on the single point swing, using the larger net as a den, or jumping between the boulders, children are relishing the opportunity to combine play with nature.

Durants Park nestles under a canopy of large oak trees within a larger park and includes in its design an abundance of emerging wild flowers and grasses.

Designed primarily for use by 8 to 13-year-olds en route to and from school, the park has quickly become a destination play area for children of all ages, including children with special needs and parents with young children.

The access path into the unfenced park, dominated at the entrance by two 1.5m high monolith stones, provides additional play opportunities. In the future it will also encourage children to explore the newly-planted wild flowers on either side of the boulder-lined path before leading them into other parts of the natural play area.

The natural play equipment has inclusivity at the core of its design and provides play opportunities for children of all ages and abilities.

Glinys Hilborne, Extended Schools Coordinator, Education, Children’s Services and Leisure at Enfield Council is delighted that DurantsPark has proved so popular.

She said: “’The Play Pathfinder development at Durants Park has been very successful and the equipment is proving to be very popular. The inclusion of elements such as the wild flower meadow means the design embodies many of the natural play principals set out by Play England. The space has also encouraged disabled children to use the park and, in particular, the hammock element of the timber climbing structure is fast becoming a firm favourite.”

In addition to a robinia hardwood arched walkway, the park features a wobbling robinia rope climbing frame, with grass mat safety surfacing to complement the local landscape, a rope hammock which is really popular with teenagers and a spiral boulder seating area.

Another focal point is the galvanised steel single point swing, installed with materials left in their natural state to ensure that it ages naturally whilst providing the very best corrosion protection

Sutcliffe Play Area Sales Manager Rob Hetherington says Durants Park demonstrates that natural play facilities can enhance a surrounding landscape.

“We’re delighted that Durants Park has been such as success. Natural play is a broad-ranging concept but we delivered just what Enfield Borough Council wanted – a play facility that fully complements and enhances the natural landscape,” he said.

“The real measure of success, however, is what use the local community makes of it and, in the case of  Durants Park, it couldn’t be any better.”

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