Brighton Play Spaces

Location: Brighton, East Sussex
Services: Public consultation, production information, and design services
Status: Completed – 2012
POI: Creating a play environments where children can explore, be creative and express themselves

A three-year project to ‘transform local areas into innovative and adventurous play spaces’ for children throughout Brighton and Hove.

Play Builders Programme

As part of a strategy under the former Government in 2007, local authorities across the UK would be funded to ‘transform local areas into innovative and adventurous play spaces’ for children. With the longterm goal being to ensure ‘every child and young person has access to enjoyable, safe and stimulating play opportunities within local communities that respect play’, the Play Builders Programme was announced in 2008 with a total of £235m being invested to achieve its aims.

Being based in the south-west, the leisure and tourism industry is an important sector for us as we look to improve or transform sites for public use. But an area of work that’s been a core aspect of our business over many years – and one of the most satisfying – is our design of play schemes. Our philosophy is always to create a play environment where children can explore, be creative and express themselves as well as a place for families to come together.

Public consultation

Having been involved in a number of the national Play Builders Programmes previously, we were one of two landscape design agencies chosen to redevelop 24 play spaces for Brighton and Hove in East Sussex during 2009-2012.

Working in partnership with Groundwork Solent for Brighton and Hove City Council, we were commissioned to provide public consultation, production information, and design services. The first stage of the process had been to consult the public about the selection and design of the new or refurbished play spaces.

Together with engaging with young people (aged 8 – 13) through local school working groups and outreach sessions, we also listened to parents’ views on the play spaces while promoting the benefits of outdoor play. Through these consultations, we could understand and identify specific play preferences and tell them more about the proposed sites.

Design preparation

After the initial consultations, we encouraged the children to think about what the site, and more specifically, the equipment might look like, beyond standard equipment such as swings and slides. This meant they could be actively involved with the design of each space.

With the data and information we’d collected from all the engagements, we were able to design site-specific concepts and ideas for approval with Brighton and Hove City Council. Once agreed, we prepared detailed plans, layouts, and specifications to strict cost budgets, as well as overseeing the implementation of construction works as part of the process.