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Friarwood Valley Gardens, Pontefract

Client: Wakefield Council

Cost: £60,000

Date: June 2015

Genre: Community, Landscape

New picnic and play area for historic gardens

The new £60,000 play area at Friarwood Valley Gardens has created a natural themed area within the gardens that is designed to attract young children and families to picnic and play.

The area was developed following consultation with local volunteer group Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens, and features a wide range of equipment for toddlers and juniors including Sutcliffe Play’s new Orchard equipment.

Orchard is a range of environmentally friendly play equipment which encourages physical and imaginative play and social interaction.  The wood-based units are designed to complement natural play settings like Friarwood Valley Gardens.  A range of inclusive equipment has also been installed to allow children of all abilities to play side-by-side with each other.

Wakefield Council secured a £60,000 grant for the development of the new play area from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd, a non-profit making Environmental Body registered to fund profits which are eligible under the Landfill Communities Fund).

Cllr Maureen Cummings, Cabinet Member for Environment and Communities at Wakefield Council said at Wakefield Council says: “Friarwood Valley Gardens is a designated Grade II Historic Garden and Conservation area so it is important that the play area reflects the natural theme of the gardens.  We’ve worked closely with Friends of Friarwood Valley Gardens to ensure the new area complements the environment.

“We believe the new play and picnic area will have a long-lasting positive impact on the local community.  Alongside new and exciting play opportunities for children the new seating and picnic benches will encourage a whole new user group of families and young children.”

Playground Equipment:

Orchard – Rope Walk: This rope walk challenges children’s balance and strength

Stepping Pods: Stepping Pods have a rubber moulded top and can be installed at varying heights in numbers for children to hop from one to another. They’re great for developing balance and the skill of judging distances.

Orchard – Jungle Bridge: A fun and challenging bridge which requires balance.

Orchard – Inclined Balance Beam: This piece of equipment challenges children to improve their balance and coordination.

Orchard – Timber Tangle Unit: A timber tangle of inclined beams and ropes that requires  balance, agility and full concentration to move across quickly. The three single ropes create a small tightrope section and the bottom  net can become a social seating area to take a rest.

Orchard – 1.8m high swing with 2 x Pod seats: All Sutcliffe Play’s wooden swing sets have a unique aluminium shoe that protects the base of the post once in the ground, with ventilation holes to keep the post dry.

This swing features the Pod seat, which ‘hugs’ the child (like peas in a pod) and uses their body weight to pull it around them. It is very easy to get in and out of. Significantly lighter than other cradle seats, any impact with a child will be less severe. When swinging, the leading edge is flexible and has excellent absorbing properties.

Talktubes: Position these at either end of the play area and children will even be able to hear each other whispering. With a maximum distance of 20m apart, the underground tube is flexible so it can go round corners.

Orchard – Twin Peaks unit: Two low platforms connected by a rope bridge have wooden posts that create a mountainous feel.  Both platforms have a selection of ways to climb or descend. Music pipes are fitted to one of the platforms for added play value.

Orchard – Balance Walk: Great for younger children, this piece of play equipment is lower to the ground and helps develop balance and coordination.

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