Here is the very thorough survey that Helen Bailey conducted for SCD to canvas opinions and ideas to guide the design of replacement play areas after the new Hub is built. The development company, and our community in general, is very grateful to Helen for the considerable amount of time and effort she expended on this, particularly in view of how busy she is with her own work and raising her young family. We will use the report to guide discussions about landscaping the Hub and also our plan to eventually develop a further play area below Old Mill Road.
Play Park Survey: background information
This survey aims to give an understanding as to how Strathdearn residents feel about the proposed plan for the play park at the Strathdearn Hall site and the newly proposed additional play park on land below Old Mill Road, Tomatin.
The survey design was intentionally open in nature, with the aim of gaining Strathdearn’s residents original thoughts regarding the proposed play park provision at Strathdearn Hall. The survey style was chosen so as not to ‘lead’ the responses and thus asked just one open question: What do you think of the current plan for the Strathdearn Hall play park?
The survey opened in early-August 2018, with notifications in the Strathdearn newsletter, Strathdearn Community Development Developments (SCD) website, and Strathdearn Facebook page. Posters were also put on noticeboards around Strathdearn. The initial closing date for the survey was 7th September 2018.
Shortly before the survey’s initial closing date, a reminder was issued. This reminder included ‘breaking news’ arising from the SCD meeting on 30th August, regarding a proposed additional play area on ground below Old Mill Road, hence the survey deadline was extended. The reminder was distributed via the SCD website and Strathdearn Facebook page. Posters were also put on noticeboards around Strathdearn. The survey’s new closing date was 14th September 2018.
Responses were requested in writing, via an SCD email address or by post. The majority of responses were provided in writing. Some responses were however given verbally, with note-taking conducted by Helen Bailey. Survey responses were received during August and September 2018.
Thematic analysis using the repetition technique has been used to evaluate the qualitative data set arising from the survey responses.
Play Park Survey: summary of findings
As the survey received just 12 responses, it is not possible to draw strong conclusions; however, the findings are still valid and useful in steering the play park design. Six responses were received after the ‘reminder and breaking news’; five of which refer to the additional proposed play park on ground below Old Mill Road. Note: (n=) denotes the number of responses received in relation to certain topics.
Strathdearn Hall site
A separate play area for younger children is seen as a good idea (n=3). However, it is felt that play areas for the younger and older children need to be located within sight and easy distance of each other or kept together, owing to the difficulties that would arise for a parent/carer looking after differently aged children playing at the same time (n=5).
The younger child play equipment is felt to be a little boring (n=1). The area for younger children would benefit from having its own climbing frame with integral slide (n=4). The older children are also seen as needing climbing equipment, with two respondents saying they like the current climbing frame.
Fencing and latched gates are requested for the younger child play area (n=3), as is ground cover material of the highest safety standard (n=2). Paths to play areas should be smooth and solid, for ease of buggy and wheelchair access, and snow removal. The decking areas from the doors at the back of the new hub should be of non-slip material.
Having the younger play area in sight of the café was considered good (n=3). However, this play area should be accessible at all times, including when the café is closed (n=2); with one respondent seeking assurance that access will never be reliant on users buying food and drink in the café. Seating should be available at all times in the younger play area (n=3), which one respondent asked to be covered to give protection from sun, snow and rain, and fixed to the ground to prevent removal/tipping.
Age ranges of play equipment needs to be clarified (n=4), to ensure correct purchase and positioning, and to enable equipment categorisation, as in the Adventure Playground at Brodie Castle. Equipment procurement should be conducted with the local climate in mind, to maximise the access to play during winter months. One respondent stated they would not be in favour of felling all trees on site.
Suggestions to make the younger play area more attractive and stimulating
- The safety ground surface could feature pictures of local animals, e.g. deer, sheep, rabbits, hares, birds, river fish, and a hopscotch area
- Seating and eating area, encompassing activity games like naughts and crosses
- Single rockers
- Wheelchair access to roundabout
- Musical play items (see Sovereign website)
- Wooden play centre, e.g. with a partly covered stage and a little house with seating inside
- The area between the younger and older children’s play areas could be a walking trail, with e.g. balancing beams, willow arches, wooden circular steps and grass mounds. A bug hotel would be good for the bugs and insects, as well as the children to enjoy
- Suggested websites: Sovereign, Hags, Safe and Sound Playgrounds, Touchwood.
Play Park Survey: summary of findings
New proposed play area on Old Mill Road
One respondent suggested a skateboard park could be a suitable inclusion in the new proposed play area, while another respondent raised the potential difficulty of obtaining insurance. Cromarty Skateboard Park is given as an example of skateboard park closure (see Appendix 6).
One respondent thought relocation of the play park to the ground below Old Mill Road was a good option. However, another respondent expressed concerns about the site, due to its close proximity to a river (any fencing installed to encompass a play area should be open slat or similar to allow parents/carers visibility to the river), and its potential lack of direct sun, which could mean equipment and surfaces have a tendency to be frosty/snowy and slippy.
Play parks (and specific equipment) praised in the responses
- Landmark (toddler section, especially its climbing frame, opposite Ant City)
- Whin Park (square inset trampolines)
- Brodie Castle (zipwire; and good age-specific adventure playground equipment in general)
- Walker Park (toddler section)
- Macdonald Resort Aviemore (covered play houses; toddler climbing frame)
- Farr play park (play house)
- Bellfield Park
- Inshes Park
- Play park at Daviot
- Play park located between Inshes Road and Spey Avenue (large pirate rope climbing frame)
Stakeholders and play park provision
Gaining the opinions of and meeting the needs of older children in Strathdearn in relation to play park provision is seen as necessary (n=2), as is including Strathdearn School Council in future discussions.
One respondent said changes to Strathdearn’s play park provision should have been a community decision and they would have liked to have heard the play park proposals sooner; another respondent said the plans could have been clearer.
Leaving the children of Strathdearn without a play park is felt to be negative (n=3).