Funding bid to revamp Harpenden playground with no slide

The Southdown play area project in Harpenden is seeking more funding. Photo courtesy of David Whitbr

The Southdown play area project in Harpenden is seeking more funding. Photo courtesy of David Whitbread from the Harpenden Photographic Society - Credit: David Whitbread

The removal of a dodgy slide from a Harpenden play area, leaving just four pieces of equipment for children of over 2,000 households, has prompted volunteers to revamp the site.

Parents have joined forces with a local councillor to launch a fundraising project to modernise an ageing playground at Oakley Road.

In 2013 an unsafe slide was removed and not replaced, although the nearest playground is over a mile and a half away.

Last autumn, Cllr Teresa Heritage asked Southdown residents for help with two playgrounds - at Oakley Road and behind Magna Close.

This resulted in a group of volunteers banding together to form the Southdown play areas working group (SPAWG).

Co-chair of the group Glyn Goodwin said: “After the slide was taken away we found out there was no money to replace it and some of the equipment has been there for 15 years and has come to the end of its life.

“If we sit back, nothing will happen.”

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Working closely with St Albans district council, the team asked various companies to produce a play area design for Oakley Road, which residents then voted on.

But establishing the winning design was the easy part – SPAWG, which has recently obtained charity status, is trying to raise £77,000 to bring the transformation of Oakley Road’s play area to fruition.

Generous sponsorship and individual donations have so far resulted in pledges of nearly £30,000.

SPAWG has urged people to show support for the community project by putting a green token in its fundraising box at Waitrose in Harpenden.

Also, it has applied to the Aviva community fund for a grant, but time is running out as voting for this and other projects ends on May 30.

The playground scheme chosen by the community has 10 new pieces of equipment including a huge galleon with ropes and swings, a ‘rocking and rolling see-saw’ and roundabout, which are designed in an inclusive way to allow children with special needs to also play on them.

And of course a major feature is a new slide, bigger and shinier than the old one. However it will cost £8,400 to install with the necessary surfacing requirements.

SPAWG will have a stand at this year’s Harpenden Carnival, on Saturday June 6, to enable residents to chat about the plans, offer help or donate.

To support the project’s bid to obtain funding from Aviva, go to and cast your vote for Southdown play areas.