The local Tenants and Residents Association sent us a lovely email following Saturday’s BBQ, and some quotes follow here:

I am glad to hear the event went well. I had no doubt you would be able to
attract children as most of the play spaces on the estate are similar to that play space. The play spaces are in a square shape enclosed
around the residents’ buildings (some having their front gardens opposite
the play space while others with their back garden opposite the play space).  I expect most of these children are those that live in the buildings
surrounded by the play space. The play spaces are underutilised, because
there isn’t any play equipment in any of the play areas on the estate. This
is why it is essential that LBTH rebuilds these spaces with proper play
equipment for the children.

In terms of understanding the needs of the estate and engaging the estate,
we (the Residents Assocation) have also carried out questionnaires in the past to ask what people want on the estate. In relation to this project,
we have had a large number of requests for play spaces to be properly
equipped with play equipment from people (mainly parents with young
children) all over the Estate.

It’s wonderful to see that the Tenants and Residents Association understand the need for vibrant play spaces in the estate, and understandable that the residents are vocal about the need for them considering how many children are currently living there.  Play equipment helps to advertise that a space is set aside for children, that their needs have been provided for by those in power.

The thing is, play is about more than equipment and children’s needs ought to be considered in all the decisions of design in the public realm.  In an ideal world children would be playing out all over the place, their parents chatting to one another all the while.  Public space would accomodate everyone, and in so doing help create a sense of cultural cohesion, of social belonging, and of possibility.

That’s why we’re hoping not just to run a few exciting play sessions for the children, but to demonstrate how much can be done with how little, to engage the local residents in a dialogue about play and the public realm, and to change people’s perceptions of the open spaces between their houses into something more colourful, more fluid, more playful for everyone.