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Robert May Close, Cambridge

Client: Cambridge City Council

Cost: £36,000

Date: July 2021

Genre: Local Authority, Challenging

Turning over a new leaf on Robert May Close!

In early 2021, Cambridge City Council embarked on a thorough transformation of 3 key play spaces for local children. We were pleased to enter a tender submission for this three-pronged project, and delighted to win the chance to deliver fantastic, inclusive and modern play opportunities to the children of Cambridge in a trio of separate sites, each in desperate need of a fresh start.

The playground on Robert May Close sat in a wonderful rustic spot, surrounded on all sides by picturesque greenery which provided a fantastic natural location for children to play and explore – but its aging equipment had become insufficient to meet their demands. After undertaking an in-depth site survey and giving every consideration to the key requirements within our client’s brief, we finalised a new design which went with the grain of the woodland surroundings, delivering a wide array of natural-themed equipment to the site.

Meeting the Brief

We were pleased to have the chance to display our team’s adaptability from the off, as our design introduced this exciting new equipment whilst safeguarding the best existing kit, as desired by the council. The transformed site brings the new equipment to Robert May Close on durable grass mat surfacing, offering safety for children whilst blending seamlessly with the grassy environment, and providing an array of topline play features including climbing, spinning, balancing, and rocking:

The heart of the new space is formed of a range of pieces from our Orchard range, made from pine logs locally farmed from sustainable UK forests. For juniors, our wooden Teepee Slide climbing frame offers multiple ways to ascend, and up to 10 young adventurers can take advantage of its 6 play feature activities, or race to the top and make a quick getaway using the stainless-steel slide. Meanwhile, those who prefer a quieter experience can use the unit as a den to hide out or socialise in, either underneath or on the first level netting.

Further adhering to the woodland theme is our wooden Tangle Trail, forming a challenging circuit from an array of dynamic pieces including a balance weave, monkey bars, a ladder wall and stepping pods. This wooden trim trail offers balancing, climbing, traversing and sporting activities to boost children’s physical and mental fitness and co-ordination.

Alongside it, our Cobra Swing brings a dynamic multi-user swing experience for up to 6 children of varying ages and abilities, testing vital skills of teamwork, social co-operation and balance which are required to get its chunky 2.2m long rope seat moving. In addition, its unique arched ached design leaves the new play area uncluttered by too many swing legs (although those who prefer a more classic swing experience will also find much to enjoy in our 2.4m high Orchard Swing, with 2 child-hugging Pod seats). Finally, our bright 4-seater timber Orchard Seesaw finishes the theme, fitting seamlessly with the natural aesthetic and adding another key play feature, as children develop their social co-operation skills to find the perfect balance.

Branching off from the wooden aesthetic but still coloured in complementary greens, a number of staple play features are also present: young explorers who love to encounter new creatures in the wild will enjoy our friendly Denzel the Dragon Springie, which offers rocking fun in a robustly constructed HPL structure with a comfortable non-slip seat and ergonomic rubber handles.

Meanwhile, our Whirlybob Roundabout brings rotating fun to up to 4 spinners aged 2 to 8 with 4 colourful HPL seats, and there’s plenty more opportunity for young visitors to find themselves in a spin with our bright Curlicue – featuring a simple spiral design, this spinner is set at an angle and utilises the user’s changing centre of gravity to propel them around. Whether a child sits inside the spiral or gazes at its optical effect from the outside, its galvanised steel base, sealed bearing and powder coated steel spiral top make the Curlicue a particularly durable rotator.

Delivering for All

John Parrott, Asset Management & Projects Officer for Cambridge City Council, said ‘From the outset, communication with Sutcliffe Play was excellent, with timescales given and site visits undertaken, and any obstacles presented were easily overcome. I have to recommend Sutcliffe Play on its delivery, aesthetics, and the robust nature of its equipment. The play area has exceeded my expectations, and we look forward to working with Sutcliffe Play on future projects.’

Working hard on this site alongside two others in the area concurrently, we displayed our flexibility in delivering on each task, and we’re proud of transforming Robert May Close from an outdated site that was once ill-equipped to cater for the needs of a modern generation of children, into a rejuvenated play space which is now full of woodland wonders and has truly turned over a new leaf, delighting children from the local area and beyond.

Playground Equipment:

Teepee Slide

Teepee Slide

Cobra Swing

Cobra Swing

Tangle Trail

Tangle Trail 6

Orchard Seesaw

Orchard Seesaw

Orchard Swing

2.4m Two Seat Swing

Whirlybob Roundabout


Denzel the Dragon Springie

Denzel Dragon

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