Brockwell Park playground and building plans

Anja Stobbart reports on the renovation of the Brockwell Park playground and the broader changes taking place in the park

I’d known for ages about the work planned on the playground in Brockwell Park, but it was still a shock to turn the corner with my two children, heading for their beloved playground, only to come face to face with the earthquake like devastation.

They stood for a while looking at the places we once played.

My two year old described the scene: ‘Broken, Mummy’.

Brockwell Park dates back to 1892 as a public park, though the Brockwell Park Hall Estate was created 200 years ago in 1811.

Land Use Consultants (LUC) has been working on the rejuvenation of the Park since 2005 (with Lambeth Council and Brockwell Park MAC), originally securing £3.5million of Heritage Lottery Fund / BIG Lottery funding in 2008. Lambeth brought the total up to £5 million.

The new and improved Brockwell includes the ‘natural’ children’s playground (already completed) – better known as the sandpit and paddling pool – along with the re-building of the main playground, the restoration of the lakes and improvements to the paths, and plans for new trees and planting, new railings and gates. There will be a new centre for the Community Greenhouses and Gardens Project, plus restoration of the Walled Garden and Temple Building.

The paddling pool was the first part of Brockwell Park’s planned transformation. And, after the usual moans from some, including myself, it has proved a huge success (and no one seems to have knocked themselves out on one of the architect’s sculpted boulder[s] yet).

The paths around the park are also being dug up for new sewer runs – all of which appear to be going to plan too (and mostly finished). It looks like Brixton Water Lane will be the last one to be completed – running from the gate up to the fork of the road near the BMX track (still very much near BWL entrance at present, and a long way from the BMX track).

The end of October sees the closure of the Temple and toilets, as well as the Walled Garden. Winter is, obviously, the best time to close all these areas – but they will be missed. No secret winter garden this year.

The new playground is due for completion by the end of March 2012. Although there have been conflicting rumours, with some mums gossiping that it might be earlier, in February 2012. The various changes are all ahead of schedule at the moment – lets hope the snowy depths of winter don’t strike with such venom this year.

Paul Carter, the park manager, has been writing a regular report about the progress of the work – see here

The equipment has all gone now. But, in the age of recycling, it will be reused if it is in good condition. The ageing roundabout had probably seen it’s last spin – believe me, the sound of dragging metal had got rather grating.

I have had many conversations starting, ‘Why spend money on a new playground when it is fine as it is?!”

Well, the plans certainly look amazing. One report said the old children’s playground was poorly integrated in the park with little tree cover. The new playground and equipment has been designed to sit better within the park landscape, and provide that much needed cover – something come summer we will all appreciate.

The plans show how the playground will increase in size (reaching out to the new curved path ‘above’ the old playground area).

The toddler area will boast a platform playhouse and hut, a small platform hut and wide slide. A snake sandpit and wobble dish are bound to be popular along with the obligatory toddler swings of course.

Junior play may well tempt a few daring toddlers that way as they behold the suspension bridge, sand building site with chutes and wheel, along with a sand transport system, slide and fireman’s pole. And the list goes on.

Senior play has the big money entertainment with a large cableway – which may entice the odd embarrassing parent, along with the whirlwind roundabout. Playhouses and walkways beneath tree level, with huts, bridges, slides and ladders make the new playground sound like a true adventure for all.

Leaving to go home may become more of an issue, but there’s always the Chocolate Box round the corner for a carrot to dangle. Once in a while at least!