An excellent question, to be answered in two very different ways which, in true playwork fashion, are not mutually exclusive.
First is a guest post from Grant Lambie of Free Play. Many of you will know him – a few lucky visiting Americans have been given a ride on his milk float! He also spoke at the IPA Conference in Cardiff on the rise of what he termed “mis-adventure playgrounds” – i.e. places that don’t deserve the name.
Not a Standard Adventure Playground!
As we are threatened with the loss of more Adventure Playgrounds, this July Kingston’s Dickerage and Battersea Park Adventure Playgrounds. The justification for the closing them seem to share something in common. Health and Safety, Wandsworth’s council said “the playground does not come up to the European standards” and Dickerage said the adventure went out of the place due to health and safety concerns.
In fact the European Standard is not mandatory in general. In addition, perhaps because of concerns that there would be ‘mission creep’ by the Standards into staffed adventure playgrounds, it has always been the position that EN Standards are not intended to apply to adventure playgrounds. The EN Standard itself confirms this:
Extract from EN 1176-1:2008, clause 1 Scope,
This part of EN 1176 is applicable to playground equipment intended for individual and collective use by children, but excluding adventure playgrounds. It is also applicable to equipment and units installed as children’s playground equipment although they are not manufactured as such, but excludes those items defined as toys in EN 71 and the Toys Safety Directive. NOTE Adventure playgrounds are fenced, secured playgrounds, run and staffed in accordance with the widely accepted principles that encourage children’s development and often use self-built equipment.
So who is telling these playgrounds and the council that this is the case? And why do so few people know and work with this?
We may find out who it is at Battersea by knowing whom is going to put fixed play equipment on the grave of Battersea’s former Adventure Playground.
As with all play provision, risk assessment is mandatory. Significant progress has been made in this area: risk-benefit assessment is a form of risk assessment recommended in Managing Risk in Play Provision: implementation guide, and is endorsed by the HSE. One wonders why LB Wandsworth has not commissioned assistance with a risk-benefit assessment.
This is Battersea with its very fun, one off, very popular swing. Made by staff and young people.
Here is Wisbech Adventure Playground, probability all with-in the EN BS 1176, but does lack the Adventure. One senior play worker of an Adventure playground said “That almost verges on the criminal…….terrible.”
Just to say the one above is the million pound playground by Suticliffe and is very similar to Pauls Grove AP in Portsmouth which they built 4ish years ago, so have learnt nothing.
Please make sure your local Adventure Playground or School is being assessed to the right standards, and not be a standard that is there to make it easier of playground manufacturer to export their wares.
Grant Lambie (Free Play)
Advised by Bernard Spiegal (Play Link)