Case Study: Clarke’s Piece – Recreational Play Area

Clarke’s Piece – Recreational Play Area

The project was the brainchild of local land owner Nick Clarke. He had a vision in which the children of the village had a place to go play, learn and make friends. The village had no recreational facilities since their old cricket pitch was returned to agricultural use.

Nick had always had somewhere to play cricket or run around with his friends as a child and wanted something similar for the children in the village today. He decided to approach the parish council and donate a piece of his land to them for a recreation ground. The council agreed and various surveys and committee meetings commenced.  Sadly, Nick passed away from a brain tumour before he could see the result of the vision he started years before.

The village action group vowed to see the project completed in honour of Nick and his generosity. Hand Made Places were approached for their help and funding was provided by Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd (WREN).  After consultations with the local community it was deemed vital that all age groups within the village would be catered for

We converted Nick’s empty land into a natural play area comprising of play & sports equipment, pathways, street furniture, fencing and landscaping. Most of the facilities were concentrated in an area nearest to residents and the main access into the park and a path was installed inside the park to improve the access into a newly created toddler area.

Timber play towers which included a slide, ramp and roofed platforms, a low level trim trail, a see saw and parent/toddler seating were situated within a fenced off footprint to form the toddler zone. Therefore a number of challenges and experiences could be had in a safe and natural setting. We also provided two cradle swings to form part of a double bay in the wider park area outside of this zone.

For the older children; a climbing structure was provided with a 2000mm critical fall height, a cone climber and flat swings which all provided physical challenges, confidence building, risk taking and opportunities for social interaction.

Grass matting was used throughout the site to ensure a natural grass surface was retained.  A low level mound was landscaped and turfed to provide variety to the levels of the site thus further encouraging imaginative and active play in and around the apparatus. Within this open area a number of picnic tables were placed to encourage family use and an increase in time spent enjoying the play area.

Sports and ball games were also catered for with the erection of goalposts and nets at the furthest end of the play area. A basketball zone was also created on a square area of artificial sports surfacing to encourage all year round use, all of which was surrounded by a perimeter ball stop net.

The project was completed with a bespoke timber engraved notice board complete with display case at the main entrance to the park. None of this would have been possible without Nick and his kindness, therefore the area is now called ‘Clarke’s Piece’ as a tribute.