Occupying a prime location by the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament, the new playground in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, features an 8m-wide sandpit, a Thames-inspired water feature, sensory play equipment and a design inspired by the wharf which once stood on the land.
Royal Parks park manager for Green Park St James’s Park and Victoria Tower Gardens Mark Wasilewski said: "It’s a big improvement. The old playground was in quite a sorry state beforehand. It was one of these 1960s expanses of tarmac with just one set of swings and one slide. We were acutely aware of a lack of play space in this part of London."
He added: "I’ve never seen children have so much fun in a playground as I have today."
The project was created after consulting with local parents, children and groups and funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust and Phab, a charity which aims to integrate activities for people with and without physical disabilities.
Chief executive of the London Marathon Charitable Trust David Golton praised the design for providing a space which children could enjoy and learn in, including providing an element of danger in a safe environment.
"There’s so much obesity these days we have to get children out doing these things. I look at what I did as a kid and often the play equipment I used has been taken out, there’s so much taken out there’s nothing there."
Chief operations officer of Phab Anne Joyce said the sand pit was "absolutely brilliant, totally inclusive" and was pleased that "there are so many interesting things at ground level."
The playground dates back to 1923 when local paper merchant and philanthropist Henry Gage Spicer put a sandpit in the park for the benefit of the public.