Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Play Strategy 2018-2026 recognises the importance of ensuring that our children and young people are able to play in a way that supports their developmental needs, no matter their age, ability or the community in which they live.
As part of the strategy development process council undertook an assessment of the overarching play value of all fixed play areas. Play value is a critical consideration as a play area with low play value will provide little appeal to children and young people, is likely to have low levels of usage and will not enhance children’s play experiences or support their development. Play value assessments take into account a range of information relating to the play area and its location
Council will integrate play value into its ongoing review of fixed play areas in order to ensure that fixed play provision offers a range of play opportunities that maximise their value for play.
TYPES OF PLAY
Play is central to the lives of children and young people. Through play, children and young people explore the physical and social environment in which they live; learn and develop new skills and abilities; test out ideas and concepts; and learn how to assess and respond to risk or situations that trouble them.
Fixed play areas are a type of formalised play provision based around the installation of fixed play equipment within a designated play area.
Typical examples of fixed play equipment range from more traditional equipment such as swings, roundabouts, climbing frames etc. to more extensive play structures such as fort style installations and activity panels.
Fixed play areas can be tailored towards the needs of specific age groups, for example for younger children and toddlers (rockers, sand play, low level climbing frames, slides etc.) through to more challenging play equipment for older children e.g. witches hats, zip lines etc.
Fixed play areas are typically fenced off for both safety and security purposes and can be closed at set times of the day limiting access opportunities to set times.
TYPES OF PLAY AREAS
Small scale fixed equipment playgrounds that offer a limited number of fixed play opportunities (ranging from 1 to 4 pieces of fixed play equipment). Typically local play areas are located within rural areas of low population density, villages and smaller urban estates. Given their small scale nature, local playgrounds serve a catchment area of 600m or less and are targeted primarily at the younger age group (6 years and under)
Neighbourhood play areas are designed to meet the needs of a wider catchment area – up to 1,000m – and are larger in size and scale, offering a greater variety and number of fixed play equipment pieces. Neighbourhood play areas are targeted at a wider age range, offering fixed play opportunities for children up to the age of 14 years
District play areas represent the largest fixed play provision in terms of both size and scale, offering a wide variety of fixed play opportunities (in terms of the number and variety of fixed play available) and also offer non-fixed play opportunities through the availability of grassed areas or natural landscaping. District play areas will typically incorporate support facilities, for example dedicated car-parking, toilets, picnic areas etc.
One of the underlying, long term aims of this Play Strategy is to create a public environment which is more conducive to, and supportive of children and young people at play.
As stated previously, for children play and the drive to play is a constant part of their everyday lives. A key focus for the strategy over the coming eight years will be to work towards the creation of more play friendly and playable communities which recognise and celebrate play as a key aspect of community life.
In seeking to deliver this aim council will roll out a series of initiatives aimed at enhancing understanding about the importance of play, championing play and its role within society and supporting the development non-fixed, community based approaches to meeting play need.