Free Outdoors

Work begins on a natural and inclusive playground in The Regent’s Park

Gloucester Gate Playground, to the East of ZSL London Zoo, is to receive a complete refurbishment to transform it into a playground where children can swing, splash, zip line, and explore.

It seems 2019 is the year of playgrounds in London. Lots have re-opened or been updated this year and now the metal, sterile and flat feel of the former Gloucester Gate playground in Regent’s Park will be replaced with a landscaped space that children of all abilities can play in, rich with planting, and featuring equipment made from natural materials such as rope, bark and willow.

The new playground will be almost double the size of the former playground and will feature water and sand play, climbing equipment, a zip line and a willow den perfect for rest and storytelling. It will also feature all the traditional favourites such as swings, a slide and a roundabout.

The new space will be zoned so that children of a younger age have equipment suited to them in the centre with a more formal planting style, and as they circle around the playground, the equipment becomes more challenging and the planting wilder.

Gloucester Gate playground was constructed in the 1930s, and its appearance seems to coincide with the opening of a children’s ward in the nearby hospital at St Katharine’s Lodge. The Lodge was obliterated by a bomb in the Second World War, and rubble was used to create the mounds that now characterise the area. Drawing on the history of the site, planted mounds will feature in the playground to create a seamless transition from the playground to the rest of the park.

Nick Biddle, Park Manager of The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, said: “It’s very important that we give children of all abilities the opportunity to play together and this is reflected in the design. All areas of the playground are wheelchair accessible, including the walkway bridge and water play area.”

“The old playground offered limited opportunities to play, mostly just pieces of kit to swing, spin and climb on.  A lot of thought has been put into the design to encourage imaginative and social play, as well as physical play.”

Dennis Clarke, Head of Park Services at The Royal Parks, said: “A lot has changed since the playground originally opened, but what hasn’t, is the importance of play in children’s physical, mental and social development. The provision of high quality and free playgrounds plays a big part in this.”

The playground was made possible thanks to the London Marathon Charitable Trust, and a mix of private and public donations. The Trust is also co-funding a three-year play programme with The Royal Parks to help children to spend more time outdoors and actively play in nature in partnership with local charity, London Play.

Works are expected to take approximately five months and, in the meantime, children can use the three other playgrounds in the park, Marylebone Green, Hanover Gate and Primrose Hill Playground.

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