A new play area will be opening in Mote Park next spring which is specifically designed to be fully inclusive, offering interactive, safe play for everyone.
Now under construction, plans for the new playground have been PiPA (Plan Inclusive Play Areas) approved, meaning Mote Park will be the only site in Kent to offer this standard when the new facility opens early next year.
The design was led by Allen Scott Landscape Architecture and Eibe Play Ltd, while also taking into account feedback from local residents around the provision of facilities for children with disabilities.
Engaging the senses is proven to help children develop academically and is crucial for their well-being. A well balanced play area will include at least 3 of the senses from a standing and seated position - but ideally all. Mote Park’s new inclusive playground will engage all six senses and will feature an accessible path network running in and around the site, alongside ample seating for parents and carers.
The wide-ranging play activities will be suitable for all ages and abilities incorporating sensory and tactile items. There will be opportunities for dynamic play through a host of swing options including a Snake Swing, Toddler Swing with cradle seats, and a Nest Swing which offers the option to lie down in the basket and have back support if required, as well as sitting in with a parent or carer.
The Wheelchair Roundabout, Satellite Carousel and Saturn Whizzer all offer dynamic play opportunities at a child’s own pace. The Rope Tree Climber, Beginners Walk Trail with low level access and Stand Up Seesaw help develop balance and co-ordination as well as encouraging social play through working in pairs or groups.
A T-Rex Carving will be a great option for tactile play, which is of particular benefit to children with visual impairments. The Climbing Rock will be another large tactile element offering free climbing opportunities, while Musical Chimes offer a further sensory experience. Creative landscaping will also be used to form tunnels and slides to create a sense of playing in nature.
Cllr Paul Harper, Chair of the Heritage, Culture & Leisure Committee, said:
“Mote Park is a great resource for residents and visitors alike. The dinosaur tactile sculpture will bring great fun to children, as Maidstone is the home of the iguanodon. Securing PiPA approval is a great endorsement of the efforts being made to ensure the park meets the needs of everyone who uses it.”
The new playground is part of the Council’s £4.3 million redevelopment programme for Mote Park. This will also see the opening of a new Adventure Zone featuring high ropes, a climbing wall, mini golf and segway hire, along with a new visitor centre and café with toilets and baby changing facilities.
The Council will continue to increase provision of inclusive play facilities at all sites undergoing improvements and, where the highest standards can be achieved, PiPA approval will be sought.
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