On 16th July 2021 Lewisham Council announced the Deptford Play Project. After years of campaigning £700K has been announced for Evelyn Green, Sayes Court Park and Folkestone Gardens.
This is great news for local children. We will be using this commitment to leverage more funding from elsewhere.
Over the last 6-years our campaign for play has involved design workshops with children, funding applications, garnering support from our MP, schools, Lewisham Mayor, mayoresses, play advocates and we asked you, park users, to support a campaign for Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL)* to be committed to play through the council's own Commonplace consultation. The results were overwhelming. Play was No. 1 on the list of priorities followed by healthy streets. We even formed a small committee of local play advocates including early years' practitioners, school governors, the mayoresses and, of course, parents.
Child poverty in the area stands at 49%. Due to the poor quality play provision, over the last 10-years, opportunities to learn through play, to gain social skills through play, plug and to have fun through play have slipped away from children.
We will be using the £700K commitment from Lewisham Council to leverage further funding from government grants, Mayor of London, corporate bodies, companies, NCIL, charities and other funders.
Picture: Chair, Trina Lynskey, shows ideas and plans for Folkestone Gardens generated by local residents & children to Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, in 2018
*NCIL/S106/CIL is a tax on developers. The funds go to the council to mitigate the impact of development on the area. There is millions of unspent NCIL sitting with Lewisham Council for Evelyn.
We need the opportunity & time to explore funding options by working in partnership with the council to double this £700K.
In 2019 DeptfordFolk became so frustrated with the lack of progress that we decided to apply for S106/NCIL through the appropriate channels at Lewisham Council. We found out we had to complete a PID (Project Initiation Document). So we did.
And HERE it is.
It lays out an ambitious play provision for the Evelyn ward that encompasses Folkestone Gardens, Deptford Park, Sayes Court Park, Pepys Park, Surrey Canal Linear Park and incidental play in the public realm.
Folkestone Gardens £600k - £700k
Sayes Court Park £300k - £400k
Deptford Park £150k - £250k
Pepys Park Upper £80k - £180k
Pepys Park Lower £50k - £150k
Surrey Canal Linear Park/Pepys Central Area £50k - £150k
Incidental Play £100k - £200k
Total: £1,330,000 - £2,030,000
We were told there was no money. However, we have no doubt this PID, the NCIL consultation, 6-years of campaigning, constant dialogue with park users, council officers and members about play has led to the announcement of £700K from Damien Egan in July 2021.
Let's use £700K to leverage further funding from government, Mayor of London, corporate bodies, companies, NCIL, charities and other funders. We need the opportunity & time to explore funding options by working in partnership with the council to double this commitment. Let's create a destination playground. Let's set the bar high.
Picture: Tumbling Bay in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park designed by Erect Architecture.
But why is play important? Children learn through play, they learn to interact with their peers, they learn to communicate, solve problems, make choices, take risks, be spontaneous; they stay healthy, fit, it's great for a child's mental health and it helps build strong communities from an early age.
Children in Deptford deserve the best.
The Evelyn Green play project is being overseen by the Evelyn Tenants & Residents Association (ETRA) led by the determined Keith Walton. The project has been through consultation and can be viewed HERE.
This planned play provision will work hand-in-hand with other play equipment in the area making sure there are a range of options for all ages across Deptford.
We fully support Keith & ETRA to realise this provision as it will work hand in hand with other parks in the area.
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Picture: A packed Peckham Rye playground in Southwark designed by Turkington Martin. Parents will travel for a good playground which is great for the local economy.
In 2016 Lewisham Council started their "Skate & Play" project. The council installed a Skate Park in Folkestone Gardens. To do this SEN play equipment was removed. Other equipment was relocated. This would not have matterd if the promised playground had also been built.
Lewisham Council assured residents that "Phase 2" of their Skate & Play project in Folkestone Gardens would include a new playground. Residents were subsequently told there was no funding available.
A new Playground was the TOP priority in DeptfordFolk's 2016 Park User Survey. DeptfordFolk also ran workshops with Sir Francis Drake Primary School to get their ideas for a new playground.
We also approached Erect, a play design company, who have designed and built some amazing playgrounds.
Their initial assessment to create an AMAZING playground in Folkestone Gardens came in at £600K+. You can view the assessment HERE.
This would incorporate Rolt Street, now being closed to cars through the DPLN project, and always planned as an extension to the park with safe crossings. We'd want to enhance and upgrade nearby Berwick Gardens, a play space and multi use games area (MUGA) on Woodpecker Road as part of the play provision.
Children need shade and shelter in this very exposed site. We need trees, grasses and well designed play options.
Having worked to get a ball park figure for an ambitious playground we then applied to the London Marathon Charitable Trust in 2019. They expressed interest and committed to £150K subject to further conditions. We hoped that this commitment would then help us access match funding from S106/CIL. As this grant has to be managed by Lewisham Council it was over to their team. However, in March 2020 COVID intervened and grants were halted.
We will be reapproaching the trust to try and move this forward and looking at a range of other funding streams.
Picture: Folkestone Gardens in 2021. A blank canvas for some stunning, engaging, challenging play equipment for the children of Deptford.
SAYES COURT PARK
Like Folkestone Gardens, Sayes Court Park, desperately needs a new playground.
In Phase 3 of the Convoys Wharf scheme £560k of S106 is allocated to this park and surrounding greenspace.
In 2018 our chair successfully petitioned Cllr Sophie McGeevor, the cabinet member for parks and open spaces, to ask, Hutchinson Whampoa, Convoy's Wharf developer, to release funds early to fund a playground.
All parties agreed to this idea and £150K has successfully been allocated to Sayes Court Park. Still not enough for ambitious play.
Lewisham Council have confirmed that work on the playground will be complete by Autumn 2021.
Lewisham Council's initial plans are HERE.
We worked with Friends of Sayes Court Park team and they
generated THIS plan for the park playground which was designed by Rachel from Hilly Fields.
Picture: Rachel's sketch ideas for natural play in Sayes Court Park.
Deptford Park is the most used playground in the area. During COVID it has been very well used. And it shows.
It is well over ten-years old and it has been great. We have seen some cosmetic upgrades - the bus has been painted red - but it needs investment.
We have campaigned to make sure CIL from nearby developments will go direct to the playground but this will take some time.
The willow structure isn't what it was and we would like it replaced with a permanent wooden structure such as the one shown in the picture (left).
The mounds need rebuilding, the wobble boards replacing and the tyre swing upgrading.
We will be working with Lewisham Green Scene to access funding for new equipment and upgrades.
Picture: wooden huts by Timberplay offer a range of role play options for children to explore with their peers.