Belvedere Beach Play Park,
London Borough of Bexley

The Belvedere Beach

An amazing beach themed play area complete with pier, fishing boat, palm trees and pirate treasure chest shows how imagination and good design can create an extraordinary play experience in a public park. Not only that, but an inclusive park where children of all abilities can play together and join in the fun. The distinctive novel theme of ‘Belvedere Beach’ has a great visual impact. The variety of play equipment and the activities on offer feature musical instruments, water play, a large twisting rope climber and themed timber playhouses.

View across the Belvedere Beach playground showing water play structure and ship themed timber playhouse

A bold theme creates a unique family destination

The site was previously home to a much loved splash park and was a real draw for the local community, especially in the summer. This was closed some time ago due to technical and hygiene concerns. The overall shape of the low level, circular paddling area with its amphitheatre-like setting was largely retained for the basis of the new play area.

Russell Play produced two conceptual designs for the park, each with a unique theme. The idea was to distinguish the design from a regular public playground and allow it to become a recognised destination in the same way the splash park was. The main aim of the design was to create a unique play experience that would serve as a destination for families to socialise and as a benchmark inclusive playground for London.

Timber sea themed playhouse in shape of a 'Fresh Fish' shop

Once the theme was chosen, Russell Play set about conducting research and consultation with specialists in accessible play and members of the public. Key requirements were identified and were incorporated into the ongoing design process. Inclusive, educational and sensory play equipment were all utilised and installed into flush surfacing for ease of access throughout.

Full of fun and a fully accessible play park

The clever use of the colouring of the safety surface is a significant part of the beach theme. Yellow and pale blue coloured areas represent the sand, sea and surf. Decking on the sandy land area has been specifically designed to resemble a seaside pier with palm trees, boulders and some scenic planting. The pier features a low flush ramp for wheelchair access and holds the musical instrument elements. A fresh fish shack play house and a giant wave crashing ashore in the form of a twisting rope climber form the stand out pieces on the sandy beach area. Also situated here are two trampolines, two basket swings and an Access Spinner. The Access Spinner is an inclusive carousel that can be used by children of all abilities at the same time, including users of a wheelchair or buggy.

Shipe themed timber play house

A large multi activity fishing boat play house is located in the deep blue seat area and is joined to the shore by an extension of the pier across the ‘sand’ area. The boat has a good range of challenges, including a climbing ramp, two slides, a climbing net, a rope bridge and a balancing rope.

A key requirement of this park was to include water play in the design as part of the theme and as a nod to the park’s history. Two large water pumps have been used which connect with various chutes, sifting tables and wheels before the water collects in a gulley with dams. Activities such as water play promote greater interaction and co-operative play with children. Users in wheelchairs also have good access to the key water play features at waist level. The sea area also provides surf board springers, flying birds and a pirate treasure chest.

Children playing with the timber water play units at Belvedere 'Beach' play park

The overall design includes rustic posts, rope and planting to divide the spaces and regulate the flow of children around the park. This, along with the coloured surfacing also helps to separate the age ranges while at the same time forming an integral part of the theme.

"I’d like to thank all those involved in this project for everything you have done to turn what was an idea on a piece of paper into reality, creating something unique - not just for Bexley but beyond that too. Without the funding from Cory Environmental Trust, strong team work and creativity that everyone involved has shown we would not have a playground of this incredibly high standard that is opening well ahead of schedule and in time for the school holidays. I’m so proud of what you have all achieved."
Peter Craske, Councillor

Russell Play would like thank the London Borough of Bexley for the opportunity to work on this project.

Steel and rope climber 'wave' at Belvedere Beach