Westnye Gardens Consultation
Parks and Leisure Services has been working with local residents to develop ideas to improve Westnye Gardens. These are concept plans and the detail of the specific equipment will be worked up following the consultation.
The proposal will ensure that Westnye Gardens maintains its special character and that the play area will be nature-based, using natural materials as much as possible. The focus is primarily on the play needs of younger children, as this compliments the site best.
Please click on the drawing to view a larger version of the concept.
The consultation closes on Monday 18 December at 12pm noon.
Please email your comments on the concept plan to firstname.lastname@example.org before the closing date.
We will review all feedback and the concept plan will be revised to take into account comments after the consultation closes.
Westnye Gardens Concept
Today's children and families often have limited opportunities to connect with the natural environment. Modern family life has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Some children spend more time watching television and playing video games on computers than they do being physically active outside and their health and wellbeing are being negatively affected.
In the past decade, the benefits of being connected to nature have been well documented in numerous research studies and publications. Collectively, this body of research shows that children's social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted when they have daily contact with nature.
Making a naturalised outdoor multisensory play environment can go some way to encouraging a reconnection with nature, these environments stimulate a diversity of play experiences and contribute to a child's healthy development.
Westnye Gardens is an existing park with mature trees and shrub planting. The environment offers some play opportunities, but more can be added to make the park more attractive to families and children.
The play interventions will be kept low key and be aimed at younger children.
1. Main Entrance off Millmead
This is the main entrance into the park, with metalwork gates, arch and lantern. The views into the garden form the street are currently limited by vegetation and shrubs just inside the gate. The suggestion is to remove or reduce some of these and encourage more people to come in and enjoy the gardens.
2. Shrub planting inside gate
The proposal is to remove the area of shrub planting inside the gate to open up this area, improve views into the garden, and reduce the hidden areas behind the existing shrubs.
3. Tree swing
In the place of the shrub planting it is proposed to add a tree swing seat, sourcing a tree locally, from within the borough, and adding a swing seat or seat that can be designed to rock gently.
4. Woven Willow Pod
Next to the tree swing is a living willow pod, planted directly into the ground where it will continue to grow. These make great places for children who might feel a little anxious to retreat to, a calm and enclosing pod. These are also strong enough to be climbed on and add to the changing seasons in the garden.
5. Picnic tables
Utilising the area where the sundial used to be to create an area for picnic tables. This location means that parents and carers can set up for the day and monitor where their children are to make sure they don't leave the garden through the entrance gate.
6. Landform and Embankment Slide
Remove shrubs and planting form this area, and replace with landforms to create an area for an embankment slide. Low grassy mounds are perfect for small children to run up and roll down, make a good amphitheatre space and create a sense of enclosure. A wide embankment slide is perfect for two children to slide down together, with ramps either side to climb back up.
7. Wobbly bridge
Ropes and a timber bridge between two low mounds. This could be a project to be built as part of a community workshop, and could traverse over sand or another material that feels like you are crossing a river.
8. Rope Tree House
Utilising the shady area under existing trees and creating a place to view the river. This structure is designed for climbing and is composed of ropes and masts to reflect the boats that travel along the river. It also acts like a tree house and hammock so you can relax and enjoy the view. A telescope could be part of this to look out across the river.
9. Boulder seats
A little hiding place to relax and enjoy the view of the river. The lovely smooth carved interior contrasts with the rough cool texture of the outside of this natural boulder seat.
10. Den area
Set within an area cleared in the existing planting are frames for den building, branches sticks and leaves can be found in the gardens and used as building materials to construct an ever changing den. Little paths through the planting allow children to explore and enjoy a sense of adventure with the colours, textures and smells of the existing plants, plus some new additions.
11. In ground trampoline
A surprise on the path through the planting, is an inground trampoline, suitable for wheelchair users, and great fun for all ages.
12. Long grass
A change in moving regimes to allow an area of existing grass to grow long. Paths can be cut through the long grass. This is great for very young children to run around and explore, while being easily supervised by parents and carers.
Using lots of green makes a calming and relaxing place. Focus on texture and the shapes of leaves, some shiny, some matt, some with a leathery texture and some with a delicate feel.
Looking at plants in close up can encourage children to slow down and concentrate for a while, comparing leaves or counting petals.
Willows and grasses are especially good for craft activities, easy to grow, tolerant of many conditions and can withstand a bit of rough treatment.
Selecting trees and plants with a variety of leaf shapes and colours is a good way of noticing the variety in nature and seasonal change. Arts and crafts is a good way to look more closely.
Including some edible plants, this can be a good way to help children understand where food comes from, food plants can be located in a separate area to differentiate them from non-edible plants.
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