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The changing face of the play space

  • Date: 27 October 2009
  • Area: Midlands

An exciting project is underway to create two new Open Minded Play Spaces in Leicester city centre, at Braunstone Park and Aylestone Meadows.

The Spark Children's Arts Festival is working with Leicester City Council with additional funding from the Big Lottery to create these new spaces. 

The Open Minded Play Spaces are designed to be inspiring areas for children - stimulating imaginative play - but they will also be there for the community to use for small scale events throughout the year. 

The local residents have been integral to the design of the spaces with the consultation process having begun last autumn. 

Work at Aylestone Meadows begins in the next few weeks as the landscaping process gets started.  The Planted Playline will be a winding path, planted with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers, creating circles for playing in, mounds and structures to climb on and through and three swings of different heights. 

The landscaping, the planting of large trees and the installation of the swings will happen before Christmas - but the exciting business of planting the small shrubs and flowers takes place in the spring. 

With nearly 900 plants to be set in place, locals can get stuck in and lend a hand in January - further details of planting sessions will follow in the New Year. 

If you would like to bring a group to help plant 'en masse' please call the Spark on 0116 261 6893 - the more the merrier!

Braunstone Park is set to get its very own Playable Pathway, at the Braunstone Avenue end of the park. The path leads through the coppice on the lower slopes to an open area marked by existing trees.  The pathway will feature a variety of natural structures for sitting and climbing on. 

An old Braunstone resident will also be returning in the shape of the rocking horse who has lived on the park for many years.  He is currently stabled for some much needed TLC - but will have a permanent home at the new Play Space in the Spring as a seat.  

Lafarge Aggregates plc has donated a generous £20,000 from its Landfill Communities Fund and provided a set of granite boulders from its Mountsorrel Quarry for climbing and scrambling on at cost.  The Tesco Charity Trust has funded an art project to come up with designs for the floor, which is taking place in November. 

Your park needs you! 

Braunstone residents are being called upon to help make their mark on this new playable pathway - quite literally!  Your design could be set in stone for all to see.  Come along to the Open Session at the Brite Centre on Saturday 14 November between 11am and 3pm to create your very own piece of the park. 

Completion of the Open Minded Play Spaces is expected around Easter 2010 - just in time for next year's Spark Festival! 

Festival Director Ellen Bianchini is delighted to see things starting to take shape:

"I'm thrilled to see this exciting project coming to fruition.  It has been a long process, but we will soon see these wonderful Spaces beginning to come to life.  We're very grateful to everyone who has been involved in the consultation process and can't wait to see the results."

The Spark will use the Open Minded Play Spaces during next year's festival but the areas are there for everyone to enjoy all year round.  The Spark is keen to hear your ideas for playful and/or creative events to make use of the new Spaces.  Please call 0116 261 6893 with your suggestions.

The Spark Children's Arts Festival will run from 31 May until 13 June next year. For more information visit

Additional Information

The Aylestone Meadows Open Minded Play Space has been designed by Walter Jack Studios, Public Artist. The design for Braunstone Park is by Alison Davies, Groundworks Architects.

For more information (media only) please contact:

For more information, please contact The Spark's Press Representative Francesca Wright on 07926 359546 or