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From Norfolk RCC
Many communities own or manage open green spaces for use by their residents for a whole range of activities such as sport, play or gardening. These recreation grounds provide a valuable resource for the community but impose demands on local volunteers regarding their management.
In order to help communities with their important work, the Rural Community Councils in the East of England(RCCs) have developed support workshops and information for managers of community play and recreation facilities.
All this guidance is contained in a comprehensive Toolkit. This aims to provide managers of rural play spaces with information on a wide range of issues relating to the provision and management of play spaces.
More information can be found on the Rural Action East website (the regional body for the RCCs in the Eastern Region) under the projects section.
Other information resources
Outlines why inspections should be undertaken and who should undertake what type of inspections. CPFA guide Inspections No 3 includes example inspection forms and introduces the issue of Insurance.
Annual Inspection Methodology General guidance notes regarding the basis of RoSPA’s annual inspections, providing an indication of the scope of the inspections. Annual Inspections RoSPA carry out annual inspections that are designed to improve the play value of playgrounds and reduce accidents.
ROSPA Post-installation Inspection. Following the installation of new equipment, RoSPA offers an inspection and report service that ensures that the playground meets modern standards and has been correctly installed.
Maintenance of Play Areas
RoSPA Inspections No 14 introduces routine, operational and annual inspections, including recommendations for training as well as quality control and inspection systems.
RoSPA Inspections No 24 is a guide to regular checks to be carried out by staff to identify faults or dangers arising from vandalism or breakage. Training can be provided by RoSPA through your local RCC.
ROSPA No 30 Use of Chemicals on Play Areas. Highlights legislation regarding the use of chemicals and pesticides, discusses suitable treatments for weed control, insects and pest control, and general hygiene, and advises on spraying.
Lead Paint on Children's Playgrounds RoSPA Tests in the UK and US suggest that paint produced before 1980 may present a serious poisoning hazard for young children because of its high lead content. This sheet discusses the dangers of old flaking ‘lead paint’ and the measures that can be used to control any risks.
Accidents Causes and types of accidents, playground law and standards, and how to improve playgrounds and playground safety.
Coping with Accidents. Procedures for staff and users following an accident, investigations and appropriate remedial actions, and completing accident report forms.
Risk in Play and Risk Assessment
Play England have produced an useful resource on Managing Risk in Play Provision see website: 
Risk Assessment of Children's Play Areas RoSPA Inspections No 25 describes the purpose of risk assessment, assessing the risks, actioning risk controls and undertaking appropriate future actions.
CPFA No 4 Risk Assessments addresses issues including:
- Legal requirements for risk assessments
- Risk Assessment being a process not a 1-off activity.
- Acceptable and Unacceptable risks
- Who should undertake Risk Assessments
- Includes example site inspection report
CPFA No 5 Notices introduces the theme of ‘Duty of Care’ to site users. It stresses the importance of simple, signs designed for purpose and audience. Includes an assessment of example notices to highlight good and bad practice.
ROSPA No 18 Signs for Play Areas. The Occupiers Liability Act 1957, 1984 makes it a legal requirement to ensure that play areas have correct and adequate signage. Information is provided on the contents that such signage should include.
Playground Fencing and gates
CPFA No7 Fences provides a discussion on the pros and cons of various fencing specifications. It addresses issues such as need, access points and maintenance; and argues against choosing the cheapest options.
ROSPA No 20 Fences for Children's Play Areas. Provision and functions of fencing, including design and specifications in accordance with BS1722.
ROSPA No 11 Gates for Play Areas. Notes on the need for good and safe access to play and wheeled sports areas, including emergency and disabled access, gates and grids, and related safety issues.
Taking the Lead. Practical advice from Field in Trust on implementing a policy to keep play and sports space clean, whilst making provision for dogs.
ROSPA No 9 Dogs on Play Areas. Dogs on children’s playgrounds represent a major health hazard. Discusses laws and byelaws, measures to protect children and play areas, and the design and maintenance of play areas in regard to this issue.
Design and Equipment
ROSPA Code of Good Practice regarding the site and design of the play area, including equipment,surfacing, signage and management.
ROSPA Design of Play Areas This sheet discusses the design of play areas in relation to children’s needs for creative play in high-quality environments – an essential element in their development. The issues of consultation, site and equipment selection are considered, as well as the management and safety provision of the play area.
Playground Development Checklist Advice on what you need to think about when designing a playground.
Wooden Play Equipment RoSPA This sheet highlights how good design can extend the life of wooden play equipment, and discusses treatment with wood preservatives, cracking in timber, metal fixings and wet and dry rot.
Floodlighting, Fields in Trust A comprehensive guide for all aspects of floodlighting, suitable for small clubs through to major facilities. Includes technical information and advice.
RoSPA Self-build play equipment construction. This sheet examines materials, design standards and installation of self-build play equipment in small unsupervised play areas.
RoSPA Tendering and Specification highlights the importance of clear agreement on what is expected from all parties, and discusses the Disability Discrimination Act (1995), as well as obtaining quotes, references and guarantee details, and ensuring compliance with EN1176 and other relevant standards.
CPFA No 8 Funding gives a Ten-Point-Plan for submitting successful funding applications. Contact details and summaries of some potential funders.
This NCB fact sheet is designed to act as a guide to help you to secure funding towards a project on children’s play. It covers the essential steps you need to think about in order to get your funding.
Getting Funding for Your Community Project Useful tips on planning a project and seeking funding from Fields in Trust.
CPFA No 1 Legalities provides a useful summary of each of the various laws, standards and guidelines that play space managers should be aware of. Not intended to discourage volunteer involvement and stresses that Common Sense is the greatest requirement!
CPFA No 2 Euro Safety outlines the differences between BS and EN standards in relation to playground safety. Stresses the importance of Risk Assessment.
ROSPA Legal Aspects of Safety Two types of law cover playgrounds in England Common Law, relating to claims alleging negligence, and Statute Law which incorporates a range of Acts of Parliament whose provisions include playgrounds, such as Safety at Work Act (1974), Children Act (1989) and Environmental Protection Act (1990).
Fields In Trust - Protect your Playing Field A ten step guide for legally protecting your Playing Field.
EN1176 Playground Equipment Standards The new European Standards (EN1176 and EN1177) were published in 1997 to harmonise existing European standards, and represent good practice in the event of an accident claim. It is noted that RoSPA inspections now follow EN1176 in relation to play equipment.
CPFA No 6 Liability outlines the legal context for the requirement for Public Liability Insurance and what to do in the event of a claim. Includes tips on keeping relevant documentation to hand and what can be done to prevent future incidents.
Starting a new playground
CPFA No 10 New Playgrounds addresses the fundamental issues which need to be considered in the planning of a new play space, including:
- Needs analysis (age/size)
- Ownership/management structure
- Development of a Project Brief and delivery plan.
- The use of professionals
Technical Guide to Outdoor Play Area Installation, Association of Play Industries. A guide to the minimum standards required for Outdoor Play Area installation, categories include Site Security, Installation standards, Health and Safety General aspects and Insurance.
Fields In Trust, Impact Absorbing Surfaces for Children's Playgrounds. Information and guidance on the installation of impact absorbing surfaces in children’s playgrounds. It describes the principal types of surfacing systems used and gives advice on the procedure for correct
ROSPA Loose Impact Attenuating Surfaces. It is important for ‘loose impact attenuating surfaces’ (LIAS) to be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This sheet also discusses the maintenance of bark and wood products, and sand, and highlights the need for inspections on a regular basis.
ROSPA guide to Play Area Surfacing. While not reducing accidents, protective surfacing in play areas may reduce the injury from falls to the playground surface. This sheet notes the legal position of protective surface provision, types of surfacing, and surfacing assessments. A table comparing different surfaces (suitability, installation, cost etc) is included.
ROSPA Wet Pour Surfacing A ‘wet pour’ surface is a blended mix of rubber granules bound together, having been manufactured on site and laid on an existing suitable, or specially prepared base to provide a continuous surface free of seams or joints. Thesheet includes notes on site suitability, selecting your supplier, and managing and inspecting the ‘wet pour’ surface.
Association of Play Industries- Guide to the Provision of Rubber and Loose Fill Impact This guide discusses standards, specifications, construction and installation of these specific surfaces.
Playground Surfaces CPIS Looking at the issues concerning playground surfaces and their installation.
RoSPA Grass as a Play Area SurfaceEN1176 recommends that grass is a suitable surface in play areas for falls up to a height of 1 metre. RoSPA looks at the use of grass in play areas and compares it to other materials.
Starting a new sports ground
CPFA No 11 New Sports Grounds addresses the fundamental issues which need to be considered in the planning of a new sports ground, including:
- Needs analysis
- Potential for partnership working
- Land acquisition
- Development of a Project Brief and delivery plan.</li>
Ground Work- Sports surfaces are an expensive investment, but the most important part can be the ground they are built on. The Sports and play construction association leaflet TGL2 discusses the nature of soil, soft ground, clay shrinkage and swelling, slope stability and re-compacting excavated soil. You need to join (free) as e-member to access info sheets. Sports and play construction association
Beneath the Surface- The choice of site and installation of a synthetic sports surface can be a minefield to the uninitiated. Some of the major elements in the construction of a suitable base are discussed in the Sports and play construction association leaflet TGL1. You need to join (free) as e-member to access info sheets. Sports and play construction association
Sports and play construction association produce a series of maintenance calenders on the following topics:
- Football Pitchs
- Bowling Green
- Cricket Pitch
You need to join (free) as e-member to access info sheets. Sports and play construction association
Design Guidance for Play Spaces by the Forestry Commission England A guidance note setting out the principles for developing play spaces. Discusses considering people’s needs, creating naturalistic play spaces, and encouraging children to explore the natural environment and to take part in active play.
RopeSwings, Tree Houses and Fires Forestry Commission England A risk based approach for managers facilitating self-built play structures and activities in woodland settings.
Children’s Play in Natural Environments CPIS Looking at the benefits of natural play for children, and giving advice on how adults can support this type of play.
This national children's bureau fact sheet gives an overview of inclusive play, focusing on disabled children. It looks at all children’s right to play, explores some of the barriers to play, and provides action points for inclusion.
Fields in Trust- Can Play Will Play. Accessible Play for disabled children.
Promoting Equality in Sport and Physical Activity- Sports England This brochure is ‘to help everyone providing services in sport and physical activity to think about some considerations which will help their services to be more accessible to under represented groups’.
Introduction to Inclusion Booklet The Whats, Hows, Dos and Don’ts of ensuring your sites and activities are as inclusive as possible are described in this introduction guide
Consulting Children About Play -NCB Consulting, gives practical ideas on ways of consulting children on play opportunities and facilities.
Books on Play Areas RoSPA provides a list of general books on children’s playgrounds, and addresses for further enquiries.
Also see the full toolkit under projects on the Rural Action East website for more information