Juliet Oakley Activity Area

Client: Pegswood Parish Council
Location: Northumberland
Price: £140,000
Age range: All ages
Date: July 2022

Children playing on play area
Playground equipment

Client brief:

Pegswood Parish Council released a tender seeking a playground design and build company to replace their existing aging play area with a new, bespoke playground designed for ages 0-16 years.

The brief was open-ended in terms of equipment required, but the council were clear that they wanted a playground that reflected the history and heritage of the area, whilst also being natural in appearance, durable and able to withstand high footfall.

In addition to the main playground, there was a small wooded area that the client wanted to develop with some natural play equipment.

Our approach:

Our design team visited the existing play area to get a clearer idea of how the park was being used by the existing community. It was also a vital opportunity for us to find out about the local area and its heritage.

We already knew about the areas mining heritage, but whilst there we noticed some allotments and speaking the client, we learnt that beekeeping is a big part of the local community. We also a noticed a trainline running adjacent to the play area and discovered that the Duchess of Northumberland once played on their existing dragon swing.

Back in the office our desktop research revealed that the village started as a small farming settlement and that the Peg element of the name Pegswood derives from the Anglo-Saxon word pecg, meaning pig. We were ready to start designing!

The outcome:

Our design consisted of three zones within the play area, a toddler area, a junior area and the woodland area. The primary material was robinia. Throughout all areas of the design, we considered how to incorporate inclusive and intergenerational play. We also took design inspiration from Make Space for Girls.

Toddler area:

  • Bespoke train multi-unit with tunnel, nets, clatterbridge, cabins and wheelchair accessible double-width slide
  • Four bay cradle swing
  • Bespoke carved bee springers
  • Stand-up see saw modelled on a mining cart
  • Combo swing with basket swing, flat seat and inclusive seat
  • Inclusive roundabout
  • Perch bench seating and picnic table

Junior area:

  • Six-bay hexagonal social swing
  • Cantilever swing
  • 3m high net climbing cube
  • ‘Headframe’ themed tower making use of the existing mound, with a bridge, two slides and a cargo net access
  • Challenging clamberstack play structure with slide and tower
  • ‘Duchess Swing’ dragon swing
  • 2m wide flat roundabout
  • Perch bench seating and inclusive picnic table

Woodland area:

  • Archway entrance to the ‘Pecg enclosure’
  • Bespoke carved oak pig
  • Harmony flower musical instruments
  • Den building posts
Children playing on play area

Customer testimonial:

We felt that Pennine did take a genuine interest in what we wanted to achieve. Most organisations will say they will do this, and that’s to be expected. The work Pennine did to meet the brief, though, really stood out against all the competition. Every customer has their own unique and individual requirements – very often, responses do come back that seem templated responses. This was not the case with Pennine. The panel felt that time had been invested to really hit the brief for us with originality, and reflecting the immediate and neighbouring environment.

Throughout the contracting and consultation phase, Pennine were engaged, positive and provided good guidance. They gave clear information about timelines – we engaged them as the economy was building up again after Covid and so setting realistic expectations around timing was important. This allowed us to keep our residents well-informed, and to help us plan other work around them. The installation of equipment though was very well planned, and we found only external factors impacted timelines (delivery, weather etc). You could tell the construction crew were invested in the project through their passion and enthusiasm, especially for the bespoke items. They definitely went above and beyond at times. The team were happy to talk us through things and give advice about on-the-fly adjustments that naturally come to light in these processes. Again, the main feature was their willingness and accommodation of such matters.

The park opened at the start of the very hot summer this year and its usage has been phenomenal. This understandably has resulted in quite a few snagging problems coming up quickly – a good thing in our view. Pennine have jumped on these and resolved any problems without delay. They have supported our group in best-practice for site inspection and monitoring. They also showed great support and a willingness to help out with our launch event.

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