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Funding opportunities for play areas

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 30 Sep 2011 at 12:26 PM


'Landfill', 'tax' and 'offsets' - not usually three words I get particularly excited about but right now they may as well be 'Strictly' 'Come' and 'Dancing' for the effect they are having on my adrenalin levels.

Let me explain.

Our local play area - yes, the one I was banging on about last year (here, here and here) - has just been awarded a grant of £45,000 from WREN to complete the final phase of its redevelopment. Anyone trying to raise funds for community projects will know how tricky it's becoming. To be fair, we've been very fortunate to date. Firstly, we were awarded a large grant from Cambridgeshire Play Pathfinder (now, sadly, defunct) which helped build a fort, zipwire, shelter, willow tunnel, climbing logs, sandpit and mound. Then we had enough money from Awards for All to complete a trim trail. But after this we were struggling to find any other funds to complete the final phase.

But, we are lucky.  You see, we live a few miles from a landfill site. Now I'll admit, this isn't usually something you boast about and I'm sure Kirstie and Phil would have something to say on the matter, but I for one am delighted by our location, location, location.

You see, if you live within 10 miles of a Waste Recycling Group landfill site, you are eligible to apply for funding. I won't go into the details here, because it would strain my brain, and probably send you to sleep (it involves the phrase - offsetting tax liabilities - I rest my case), but in essence the cash comes from landfill tax and is there to improve the lives of communities living near the sites.

Funding can be for all sorts of projects in the community, conservation, heritage, regeneration or young people categories and has included such things as installing outdoor gyms, restoring wetlands, redeveloping gardens and creating new play areas. If you think this might help you, I urge you to have a look through the details here - and particularly the bit about Contributing Third Parties.

With our grant we are hoping to complete the entire playground project by next Easter with pathways through the area, a new climbing wall and slide installed on the mound, an earth-based BMX circuit, a new birds nest swing, more picnic tables plus a basketball hoop and all weather playing surface.

Of course, for me, I'm at least as interested in the soft landscaping areas. Those beds planted last year and this have been an interesting exercise in learning what will survive harsh winters, spring droughts, zero maintenance and close proximity to over-excited children.

The best performers have to be the grasses - Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' and Stipa gigantea - followed by Verbena bonariensis, which not only flowers for an extraordinarily long time, but has also seeds itself very effectively.

On top of this, I'd put in a good word for Centranthus ruber (which spreads like billy-oh but that's no bad thing in this situation), Achillea 'Moonshine', Sambucus 'Black Lace' (quick to establish and a great, dark backdrop), Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination' (great height and no need to stake), Stachys 'Silver Carpet" (great weed-suppressing groundcover - vital when weeding is so haphazard) and Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm' (brilliant colour and long lasting).

And just a few last words of caution. Never plant alliums in a children's play area. They apparently look like enormous golf balls, all teed up and ready to be batted as far as possible across the grass.



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