Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Playing out in Manchester: new playground for city centre

Just a quick post to pass on the good news that Manchester city centre is soon to get its first playground thanks to the folks at CityCo. The lack of a dedicated outdoor play area in central Manchester (and the lack of green space generally) has long been a concern of mine; see previous rants here last year and here in 2010. Yes, expanding green space is a tough sell when city centre land is worth so much and everyone from the council on down is hard up for cash. But parks make this city a much more attractive place to live and work.

Navigating the city centre with small children can be a challenging proposition. In the part of Manchester where I live, just 25 minutes outside of the city centre by car, many of the parents I talk to rarely take their kids there, maybe a few times a year for a panto or a big shopping trip. We go a lot more often than that, but mostly our strategy is get in, do what we need to do and get out as quickly as possible. It's easy to understand why. Indoor play is mostly limited to galleries and museums (hats off to the amazing and free Experiment! at MOSI) and any special offerings are usually busy and often require planning ahead. And with  little outdoor space to roam about in, kids make the most of what there is, as a visit to the fountains of Piccadilly Gardens on a hot day will attest. Just having a place like this to go will be a big help.

I noticed the new playground when I was walking to Victoria Station this week. The new street-shaped park will be installed on the riverside in front of Manchester Cathedral, and will effectively create an extension of Cathedral Gardens. Really looking forward to taking my own kids for a play there this spring. Now we just have to keep people from wrecking the place. Hmmm. In the meantime, can we please have a Playful Leeds in Manchester? We like to have fun here too.

Image by Lucho Molina via Flickr.

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