Job Done - Creation of a play area in a country park

Project: Construction of a natural play area in South Norwood
Client: London Borough of Croydon
Contractors: SMP Playgrounds and Valley Landscapes
Cost: £178,000

Blending into the surroundings of a tranquil country park, children play on the foundations of an ancient ruin and roll down grassy hills. But the stones and mounds are part of a new play area opened at South Norwood Country Park to replace a car park and pitch-and-putt golf course.

Dreamt up by SMP Playgrounds designer Pamela Rayfield, the site combines elements of natural play with more traditional equipment. "The site was completely different before," she said."The area between the car park and the golf course was overgrown with bracken and bramble."

The old car park was torn up and its edging used to create the ruin, while a dry stream runs through the middle of the play area and grassy mounds cling to the sides of the lime dust paths. A five-strong team from Valley Landscapes, of Dartford, created the landscape and playground features, and were on site for six weeks.

The project, financed by the Big Lottery Fund, took four months from tender submission to completion. It was officially opened on 23 October.

Valley Landscapes site manager Wayne Seal said: "This is one of the largest playground sites we've done. The biggest job was putting in the ruin because the stones were quite heavy. It is the first time we've done something like that."

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