Papa’s Park playground and sports pitch in Pulross Road, one of the closest open spaces to Brixton town centre, is under threat of closure.
Playground equipment is becoming obsolete and unsafe and campaigners need to raise at least £25,000 in the next six months to keep the park open.
Papa’s opened in 1995 following a campaign by residents for the derelict land to be given for community use rather than sold to developers.
Since then, the well-used park has been run by volunteers with a playground, café, community centre and basketball court. It was funded by Lambeth council until six months ago.
Plans have been drawn up by campaigners to make the site economically viable, by transforming the basketball court and community centre and using revenues from renting out the space to local groups to make it self-sufficient.
Following community consultation, the park committee has created a new playground design and is ready to begin fundraising.
A key element of the design is a multi-play climbing unit costing £25,000.
The committee is seeking support from the Aviva Community Fund which supports community projects up to £25,000. Which projects get funding depends on a public vote which is open until 21 November.
Jacquie Dyer, co-chair of the committee says: “As well as urging the council to help us, we are calling on all those who love Papa’s to vote for us in the Aviva Community Fund.
“We have the chance to win £25,000 which would enable us to keep Papa’s Park open while we fundraise for the remainder of the work that will secure the park’s long-term future.”
Supporters can go to http://bit.ly/Save-PP to cast their vote.
Rachael Neville, a local mother of two boys, aged two and four, says: “Papa’s Park has been a lifeline for me and my family, especially when my boys were babies and I needed to get out of the house to deal with the isolation of early parenthood. It really saved my mental health.”
Papa’s committee of volunteers has written to Lambeth council urging it to release funds collected from architectural firm Squire and Partners as a result of its Ferndale Road Department Store development.
Jane Pickard, council cabinet member for families and young people, said: “I’ve visited Papa’s Park and I agree with the campaigners that it’s a really great playground and café providing much-needed space for local children. I certainly don’t want to see it close.
“The council is committed to working with Papa’s to support their ideas to make the park sustainable in the long term at what we recognise is a very difficult time for all voluntary sector organisations.
“The site is one of several independently run playgrounds which are on council land and benefited from council funding in the past.
“Due to huge cuts in our funding from government, we are encouraging our voluntary and community sector tenants to develop sustainability plans.”
Local residents fear the playground could be sold off to property developers. The lease on the land, currently controlled by Papa’s Park committee runs out in eight years.