Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Great Shelford is a bustling village south of Cambridge, but the playground at its heart is old, lacklustre and is not for everyone: toddlers, teenagers and those with additional needs are simply not catered for.

As research reveals the importance of play and time spent outside for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, coupled with the major reduction of children’s roaming range in the last 30 years, it is crucial that our local facilities encourage more play outside.

Inspired by best practice in playground design, we are interested in more than just new equipment. A rolling landscape that incorporates bespoke climbing frames and natural elements such as water, sand and rocks is our vision: something truly inspiring and inclusive for everyone to explore and respond to in their own way. That is why we called our charity Great Shelford Playscape because our aim is to create a playful landscape, a playscape, to benefit the whole community and leave a wonderful legacy for future generations.

We work in partnership with the Parish Council, the owners of the recreation ground, and through extensive community consultations we discovered that there were also other challenges for users of the rec: suitable storage for sports equipment, safe access onto the rec, a desire for better wildlife habitats, a lack of parking, problems with anti-social behaviour, to name a few.

We realised we needed a Masterplan for the whole site, from car park to river, to make the rec work harder for everyone, not just a new playground.

Multi-award-winning Erect Architecture has designed a playful, inclusive and practical solution for the village. In essence, the design subtly re-zones the space we have: the play area is shifted towards the car park, a new skate park is welcomed into this zone, new storage solutions allow the space around the pavilion to be used for spectating and socialising, access is improved and the riverside is enhanced. The style references the pavilion and gives a new sense of place to a space that is currently a bland strip of land.

Creating an environment where people want to linger is essential so there are more benches and planted areas to add interest and shade. Special attention has been paid to the types of equipment that can be used by a range for people. For instance the hammock swings can be used by a wheel chair user who can manage a standing transfer, a gaggle of toddlers, a parent snatching a moment of peace or a couple of teenagers in deep discussion. The water trough is also another example of inclusive design, it can be used by anyone, but it is conveniently at a height for in-wheelchair play.

Part of the Master Plan is already underway. We are working in partnership with another local charity, Shelford and Stapleford Youth Initiative, to transform the area down by the river. The young people have installed a willow dome, planted 1400 plug plants in new meadow areas, and created paths and den building areas in the copse. The response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive. We can’t wait to build the actual playscape.

This project will richly benefit over 1500 local young people (and plenty of young at heart adults in our village!) and we will be applying for planning permission imminently.

To fund the main play area we have raised over £55,000 through big sponsored events (It’s A Knockout, Abseiling the Church Tower, and the Shelford Fun Run), generous local donations and grants.

We are now just under £30,000 away from meeting the prerequisites of large local grants to begin construction of the main play area and new pedestrian entrance to the rec (the skate park and basketball practice area would be done in the next phase.)

£25,000 from the Aviva Community Fund would press the "Go" button to realise an awesome playscape for the local community!

Great Shelford Playscape

Moment of Pride

This is a real community effort, volunteers from all walks of life run the charity, the consultations, the events. Strong local support justifies the approach we've taken: this will not be your average play area! We believe in a holistic and inclusive approach to play, a challenge worth undertaking.

Location: Great Shelford