The Royal Parks is starting work on building a maritime themed £350,000 ‘inclusive’ playground in Greenwich Park. Construction is due to begin this month with the playground expected to be ready by June, thanks to a £315,000 donation from The London Marathon Charitable Trust, writes Laura Burgoine…

The Trust is also funding a play co-ordinator for three years, to help children who are not able to get outdoors and play, in partnership with London Play. The remaining cost is being funded by The Royal Parks, the charity which manages Greenwich Park.

There has been a playground located in the North East corner of Greenwich Park since the Second World War, but following decades of play from thousands of children, the much-loved facility needs modernising. The Royal Parks has worked closely with a number of parent groups including Greenwich Parent Voice, a group of parents who all have children with special educational needs or a disability, in order to ensure the playground layout is as inclusive as possible for children of all ages and abilities.

The playground is maritime themed, reflecting the nautical roots of the World Heritage Site, and features a basket swing, roundabout, and plenty of sand and water play. Play elements are positioned both at ground level and in raised channels of varying height, in order to allow disabled and able-bodied children to play together.

Vivien Davies, community group organiser, dog lover and full-time carer, lives in Greenwich with her husband, her teenage son, her young daughter who has complex needs, and a very lively Labrador. “Greenwich Park is such a big part of our lives. We explore it together as a family. It’s a great escape from our pressurised, urban lives,” Vivien said.

“Being able to use a play space that is accessible is essential. It means our daughter can enjoy all the exciting opportunities there and play with other children rather than just watching them having fun from the sidelines.”

The playground is just one of a series of major improvements scheduled for the park through ‘Greenwich Park Revealed’ – a multi-million-pound project to protect and enhance Greenwich Park’s heritage and natural landscape for future generations. The project will restore the park’s landscape heritage; improve biodiversity; generate opportunities for local communities through volunteering, events and a new Learning Centre; and improve visitor facilities through a mobility scheme, better play spaces, cafes and toilets.

Manager of Greenwich Park, Graham Dear, said: “This exciting new play space will give all children a chance to have fun with their friends, while exploring and discovering nature, in a historical setting.”

“We’re also hosting a series of broader public engagement events where we’re inviting all locals and regular park visitors to come and share their views on our proposals, to help us shape the park’s future.”

Additionally, the Royal Parks is working closely with the community to develop a bid for a £4.8m National Lottery grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund to deliver Greenwich Park Revealed. The bid will be submitted in August 2019.

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