This project has breathed life into an under-used park, previously described by residents as "not very interesting", which had an uninspiring play area and a lack of accessible pathways. Research demonstrates that providing natural play facilities means greater opportunities for imaginative recreation, reduced risk of injuries, enhanced social interaction between children and higher levels of physical activity.
Working to champion natural play, Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council and The Mersey Forest have transformed the park into a natural wonderland to benefit people and wildlife alike. New features included wildflower meadows, logs for children to scramble over, a community orchard, picnic benches, accessible pathways, and ornamental trees.
Residents were actively involved in the project from the start, shaping the plans by attending a community open day, where they voted for the features they wanted to see, and local school Bradshaw Primary kick-started the activity with bulb-planting.
Community planting days took place as the new plans took shape, involving local children and residents. Pupils from St Wilfrids Primary School also designed the artwork which now adorns the entrance of the refurbished park. The work was funded through the Play Pathfinder Programme and the Parish Council.
The contrast is now stark. Use of the park has rapidly increased, with parents having to drag eager kids off the logs, and mums pushing babies through the park rather than along the road, local teenagers have been observed tip toeing carefully through the wildflower meadows to collect their footballs and antisocial activity has decreased.
Following the success of Euclid Park, The Mersey Forest has been commissioned to create a similar space at nearby Barley Road Play Area, which will include natural play features such as a willow dome, den building area, mushroom stools and secret passageways. This project is being funded via a Lottery Awards for All grant of £10,000, which was secured by Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council.
A shortened version of this case study appeared in our long-term strategic guide, The Mersey Forest Plan, in 2014. Read the Plan here.