Voice 4 Deptford is campaigning for:
Children and Young People’s needs prioritised
a) Interior space which meets the needs of children and young people
b) ‘in plain sight’ integrated and accessible play space for children of all ages in public spaces
c) safe, accessible routes to existing play/social spaces, including schools and shops, to encourage independent movement
d) Youth Forum established and supported
Why this is important
It is essential to provide the space that children need. Play has declined over the last 20 years or more. During that period, the incidence of child obesity, depression, self harm, feelings of isolation and youth violence have increased. We are now at crisis point. The roots of this crisis begin in early years and is compounded by the lack of play. Play helps children to form the basis of physical skills, emotional resilience and sociability. The right context for play supports them in their healthy development. The built environment can give them this context.
Developers have the potential to help to improve the wellbeing of children and young people. Their ability to grow into healthy, productive and creative members of society begins with their ability to play. To deny them this opportunity through badly thought out strategies and design of play space and public realm, an overriding profit motive or even ignorance is to contribute to the unhappiness and distress of this coming generation.
Convoys Property Ltd (CPL) Stated Play Strategy
The question ‘Where do the Children Play?’ has been raised consistently during public meetings and exhibitions regarding Convoys Wharf, but no clear answer to this question has been given. There has been either an inability or a reluctance to spell out where play spaces have been allocated within the Convoys Wharf site. Nor has there been any clear admission on the part of the developers of their reliance on local parks. They did not respond to the question of whether there has been any consultation about their strategy with current users and those responsible for these parks.
The Community Consultation Statement gives the clearest description to date of the Play Space Strategy of CPL:
A Play Space Strategy has been included within the agreed outline planning permission. The strategy aims to offer play space to children at a range of ages.
Play space will come forward throughout each phase of the development and include:
Doorstep play space for 0-5-year olds within communal courtyard areas;
Play facilities for children aged 5-11 within publicly accessible open spaces;
Safe and accessible routes to existing play and social spaces for the children aged 12+.
There is no mention of this play strategy within the OPP or Section 106 Agreement.
CPL say that the Play Strategy has been included within the agreed outline planning permission. This is not the case. Nowhere in either the OPP or S 106 documents have we found mention of this play strategy. The OPP requires that play and recreation spaces for children and young people be agreed at the detailed application stage. See OPP Conditions to be discharged prior to commencement of the development 20.(i) (f) Reserved Matters / approval of details.
The Mayor’s London Plan
To conform to the meaning and intention of the Mayor’s policy 3.6 and S 4 of the new draft plan CPL must:
a. Allow at least 10 sq m of dedicated play per child, including all ages. 10 sq m is a minimum. See SPG Children and young people’s play and informal recreation 4.16
b. Use a more accurate calculation for child occupancy. Appendix 2 of the SPG, Child Occupancy of New Housing Methodology, gives one example based on interim figures worked out prior to the 2011 census figures. There are other more up to date methods of calculation.
c. Publish a strategy which shows where children of all ages from the development and the neighbourhood can play within the site and within sight of their homes.
d. Show the necessity of consigning children to off-site provision if there is one.
e. Prove that children in the neighbourhood who use play spaces in the parks around Convoys Wharf are not put at a disadvantage if off-site provision is shown to be necessary.
f. Consult with park users, including children and young people, and managers of the parks.
g. Put play areas in the public realm and avoid structural segregation.
e. Provide children and young people’s social infrastructure, for example youth clubs or community centres and early years centres.
Plots 08 and 15 and Play
a. Structural Segregation Plot 15 is the second residential block which CPL have put forward an RMA. The first is Plot 08. Looking at the two together it becomes clear that CPL’s policy of putting play space in the residents private communal space is segregating children. This tendency to separate play space for children in privately owned housing from children in affordable and social rented housing has come to public attention recently and is to be avoided. Children are social creatures and do not discriminate.
b. Proximity to home The proposals for Plot 15 continue the policy of sending children over 5 ‘off-site’. All children and young people need space near their homes. They feel more secure and their parents are more inclined to allow them to go out unaccompanied. If they have to go elsewhere to play it can lead to a feeling of rejection and isolation. If parents have to accompany the younger children over 5 years to a play space it decreases the ability of children to feel confident and have some degree of independence. In many cases they will not be able to and the children will be trapped at home, unable to reach the off-site play spaces.
The position of Plot 15 next to the bus route and main road through the site has the potential to create a barrier to children’s free movement.
c. Design of Play Spaces
i. It is important to involve children and their families in designing space to play from the beginning. They have ideas adults would never think of and the process helps to bring about social cohesion.
ii. The proposals for Plot 15 provide incidental play space more suitable for children over 5. The images in the Design Statement show this. Under 5’s cannot normally do handstands.
iii. Children under 5 love to play with sand and water, to swing and slide. This could be included in the design.
iv. Consideration can be given to the needs of older children. They like to climb, take risks and kick a ball around for example. The upright posts which are intended to look like masts would benefit from some yardarms, ie horizontal posts on a mast, that the older children can also climb. Provide hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt for games such as tag and football.