In Milton Keynes we are lucky to have access to thousands of acres of open parks and green spaces which are cared for by The Parks Trust. As a self-financing charity, The Parks Trust isn’t reliant on funding from taxes and doesn’t receive any money from the local authority.
This allows them to focus their resources on the maintenance and enhancement of their parkland and facilities. The Parks Trust care for over 40 parks across the city so you’re never more than half a mile from a park. Many of these parks also have play areas, in total The Parks Trust look after over 25 free to use play areas and 4 Trim Trails. Having these facilities right on your doorstep is hugely beneficial, play areas provide children with the opportunity to develop their physical strength, social interactions and build their confidence. Unfortunately, nationally we are seeing the money spent on play provisions decline. Since 2017 spending on play provision has decreased by 44% and it has been reported that 35% of parents have experience closures or neglect of their local play areas. (API Play Must Stay, 2019).
However, this is not the case for The Parks Trust, over the last 5 years they have increased their investment in play areas allowing them to acquire new sites as well as maintain existing play areas to high standards. Already this year, The Parks Trust has taken over ownership of three new play areas; Sensory Island and Swamp Outpost both of which are located at Glebe Farm in the east of the city and Lautier Park at Brooklands.
Sensory Island park is a bright and attractive play area in the new estate of Glebe Farm. The play area includes an accessible roundabout for wheelchairs or buggies, tunnels, a large basket swing, a pirate ship with a slide and musical orbs that jingle or play music when interacted with. This play area is ideally suited to children under 12, and there is plenty of opportunity for cross generational play.
Also located in this new development is Swamp Outpost park, this play area has a swamp theme, with platforms and playhouses on stilts, its perfect for fostering imaginative play. There are flat swings and crocodile themed sit on springers which allows for older children to play alongside their younger counterparts. The equipment is all made from wood making it very tactile and sympathetic to the parkland setting.
The final play area acquired by The Parks Trust is Lautier Park. This play area is located next to Hermes Row in Brooklands and offers a great selection of equipment designed for slightly older children. There are plenty of challenging climbing frames which will allow children to test themselves whilst also offering plenty of activity for less confident children. There is equipment suited to younger kids too and so this is a great destination to visit if you have children on varying age groups.
There is a basketball hoop and a shelter for teens and plenty of open space to kick a football around. As part of the improvement works at Willen Lake a new play area is also being created. Work started on this project in 2020 and is due to be complete in summer 2021. The play area at Willen Lake when finished will be over an acre of free play and will be the biggest play area in the city!
Natalie Dewhirst, Play Area Manager at The Parks Trust said ‘We’re very excited to welcome these new play areas to our parkland, they will be a great addition and resource to the new estates of Brooklands and Glebe Farm as they continue to grow and welcome new families into the area. The play areas are of great quality with lots of play value and will provide children with a safe place to play, grow their confidence and build friendships’. If you want to find your local play area or more about play areas maintained by The Parks Trust, please visit https://www.theparkstrust.com/activities/play-areas/