Manor Park Playground Project

The Friends of Manor Park started looking at the possibility of funding a revamp to the existing playground back in 2018, as we’d heard that there was possible council funding as part of their Community Playground Scheme.

We approached the GLA as part of their Crowdfund London programme later that year to see if we could use it to help raise additional funds for our playground. We were advised to take a step back and create a Masterplan for Manor Park. With funding from you the community, our local councillors (both from Old Malden and St.Jame’s Wards), and the Mayor of London, we employed a team of landscape designers in 2019 to do just this. The community were fantastic, attending workshops, filling in surveys, and providing so much valuable input.

Useful link Community Masterplan

This Masterplan, as well as setting out an overall vision for our park, specifically outlined high-level plans for our new playground, based on a mixture of community input and design expertise from Outerspace, our landscape architects.

The high-level plans included:

  • Wooden type adventure play equipment
  • An infant play zone and an older play area
  • To relocate the playground into a new fenced area on field around the existing hall building (the reasons for doing this were to open up the front and the back of the park both visually and physically, to encourage more usage of the entire park. The playground currently cuts the park in half. We also wanted to site the playground closer to the hall building, which we’d like to see becoming more integral to the community’s experience of a trip to our park, with at very least a cafe.)
  • To landscape the playground with trees, planting and mounding to help create shading, more visual interest, and a more welcoming, less intimidating space.

Overall, the community feedback is for to something more inspiring from its playground, less old fashioned in style. Something uplifting and surprising from a local park.

The council was very involved in these Masterplans – in fact they’d recommended the landscape architects we ended up using. The Council then let us know that they’d agreed the funding for our playground. It was £140,000, so we set about trying to arrange extra funding through the Mayor’s Crowdfund London Scheme to help supplement this. Sadly, as COVID struck, this campaign failed to hit target, so we had to start again with another Crowdfunder. By the end of July 2020 were in a position to add an additional £10,000 from the community, local councillors and local businesses to the playground fund.

We had various communications with the council, including on-site visits. We made it very clear that the new playground should work with our Masterplans. The Friends of Manor Park created a parent group to engage with the project, and to adopt the new playground once delivered, helping to develop a parent/child community around our new facility. We also want to get community support with the tree planting.

We heard that the council had put the playground project out to tender in October, which was good news. We then discovered that the playground specification did not include the new playground location. We were very concerned that the first main deliverable of the Community Masterplan, which is the playground, would not follow the design direction of these plans. This would then have a cascading impact on a number of other deliverables within the Masterplan.

We were very pleased that Cllr Simon Edwards and the Community Team at the Council are now working closely the Community Playground Team to ensure that the new Playground can work within the ambitions of the Community Masterplan. Cllr Edwards is actively exploring ways to bring additional funding into the playground to help make this easier to implement.

The Council has agreed to meet with the Friends of Manor Park on a regular basis as a way to ensure that this project stays on track and on direction. We’re very keen to ensure that the community is properly involved within this process, to help create a sense of ownership and empowerment locally. Each success helps builds the foundations for further successes.

We had a meeting just before Christmas, and it appears that the playground project could well be implemented by early-summer, but we will need to have this confirmed hopefully during January. We are very aware of the impact that the current COVID crisis is having on the day to day operation at Kingston Council.

We will do our best to keep you up to date. If you have any questions, please do email Fiona Sowell, at the Friends of Manor Park Team