Orchard Meadow gets a bespoke natural play area

Orchard Meadow gets a bespoke natural play area
Russell Play was awarded a tender by Spelthorne Borough Council, to create a natural play area in one of the borough's most attractive green spaces situated next to the river Thames.

The play area was to be placed next to the wooded fringe of Orchard Meadow, an area that forms part of the larger Sunbury Park in the town of Sunbury-on-Thames.

Spelthorne boasts over 750 acres of parks and open spaces, which also includes several miles of riverside walks. Orchard Meadow is approximately 1.7 hectares of grassland that is being maintained to enhance biodiversity and to encourage wild flowers, invertebrates and small mammals to flourish.

The residents and children were consulted on the concept and development of the park at on-site meetings held by Spelthorne Borough Council. The desire was to create a natural-looking site using non-traditional play items. It was very important that the play elements should blend in to the natural setting that had been cultivated at Orchard Meadow. This meant that plastic and metal structures and `standard' playground equipment such as slides, swings and metal climbing frames were not considered suitable options.

Russell Play's approach to the design was to complement the existing habitat where possible by using additional `natural' materials. This would create places for children to balance, climb, run, hide, discover, make dens and sit by combining both the natural area and the installed play items.

The main reasons that Russell Play was chosen was that they had the best bespoke, natural-looking play equipment, combined with the design experience to use it in the best possible way. Another important reason was that they could create this play area within the budget. The equipment installed ranged from timber play stepping `stones', a selection of timber trunks to balance on, hide within and climb on and also stones and boulders to balance and climb on or hide behind.Russell Play used their bespoke Robinia timber range and recumbent boulders to achieve the best natural look which was perfect for the space.

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