Wendy Titman, a consultant on children and outdoor play, said at a Growing with Nature conference hosted last week by building developer O&H Hampton: “One of the problems with children under the age of seven is that you don’t have to provide any outdoor space. You couldn’t do that with a battery hen.”
She blamed this on the “mantra of deregulation”, which did away with rules that laid down amounts of space for play. This had led to “nature-deficit disorder” among a generation of “IC children” — suffering agoraphobia, biophobia and other phobias.
“Design informs behaviour, and children are coerced by designers of play spaces. I avoid using the word ‘playground’ — a label informing children about a space. It is unacceptable to put them in an area with no living elements.
“Yet people constantly refer to CABE Space case studies while the Royal Institute of British Architects constantly awards prizes to environments devoid of anything living.
“It can’t be that way. We need to rethink what we believe to be a good play space, what we call it and the way people engage with that space.”
General manager Roger Tallowin said Hampton settlement, the largest privately owned development in England, dovetailed formal play areas with naturalistic spaces.
The 8,000-home project on over 1,000ha in Peterborough is due to be finished around 2017.
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