Retail Therapy with a Twist and Shout!

Lakeside Village Shopping Centre Play Park

Discover why South Yorkshire residents now consider shopping a family day out.

Shop owners, shoppers and children alike are delighted with the installation of an amazing, new play park, nestled in Lakeside Village, a large Outlet Shopping Centre located in the heart of Doncaster. Customers are so pleased with the exciting changes. Now, not only can they purchase everything they need, but they can also ensure their youngsters have a fantastic day out too, by incorporating a free session of park fun into their shopping spree!

The Shopping Centre Deputy Manager commented:

“The new Jungle Play Area has brought a new lease of life to our shopping centre. We are very impressed with the safety surfacing and the effort that went into the installation. The installers worked very hard on the project, the final outcome was flawless and met all of our requirements.”

Lakeside Village Shopping Centre Jungle Play Area

The Valuable Vision

The Doncaster Realm Team have been pro-active and forward-thinking, putting their customer’s needs first. By investing in a stunning play area, and providing an awesome facility where children can play, discover and let off steam, they were looking to contribute more effectively towards healthier futures for their consumers. Lakeside Village had a vision of creating a fun, outdoor play area for its visitors: this vision came in the guise of installing attractive, modern, environmentally friendly play facilities for its customers to enjoy.

The Shopping Centre wished to improve and re-energise an unusually shaped play space, which housed some well-worn, metal play equipment. Once they’d shared their wish to achieve a more natural look, with our Schoolscapes’ Play Consultants, we felt inspired and excited about the amazing play possibilities we could create within this popular Yorkshire town. The management desired a new, outdoor play space for its customers, that inspired the community, improved health and well-being and visually made a great impact. Schoolscapes’ dedicated and professional team successfully won the contract out of the 3 bids submitted to the London Head Office by the Doncaster Realm Team.

Secret of Success

With our vast experience providing outstanding play and learning facilities nationwide, over a quarter of a century, we were able to work closely with the Doncaster Team to reliably design and deliver Lakeside Village’s stunning new play area; Schoolscapes takes great pride in its reputation to be dependable and consistently deliver large projects on time and within budget.  The funding available for this extensive commercial project was £50K and the process from start to finish took under 12 months, from the first initial inquiry to the site visit, bidding meetings and fundraising, right through to final installation.

Our expert designers have created a top-quality, modern and vibrant design that appeals to all age groups. It certainly has the ‘wow’ factor! When we recently visited to see how children were enjoying their special play park, happy shoppers exclaimed “Thank you Schoolscapes! We feel so lucky! We love shopping here and our children just love, love, love it too!” As we all know, happy children make a shopping experience a much more pleasant and productive day out, whether it’s with grandparents, childminders, families or visiting tourists; having a calm and pleasant outdoor space to relax in, where children have a few moments to stretch their legs and run free, whilst carers feel confident that children are happily playing and exploring in safety, can only be a good thing for everyone’s mental health and well-being.

With well-organized site clearance, important on-site safety procedures, a dedicated manufacturing team, experienced installations crews and industry-leading product warranties, Lakeside Village Shopping Centre knew their project was in safe hands and would soon be a reality, with the Schoolscapes Team leading the way. Industry warranties and responsibly resourced natural timber all gave peace of mind when looking to install a more environmentally friendly play park.

Lakeside Village Shopping Centre Designs

Dazzling Design

Based around a fun, jungle theme, proven to be popular with all age groups and genders, we have created inviting areas and pathways of jungle and river, using vibrant blue and green rubber safety surfacing to represent both land and water. Wetpour safety surfacing was the perfect solution for this vast open space, its rubber properties making it a bouncy surface, allowing shoppers to relax and recharge, secure in the knowledge that their children could play safety. For Lakeside it’s also ideal, as with the heavy footfall and wear and tear of a busy shopping district, it was important to provide a long-lasting playground flooring that was both safe and easy to clean and maintain.

One benefit of Wetpour is that, as its name implies, during the installation process it is poured out onto the ground and this allows fabulous patterns to be created within the surfacing. Our knowledgeable design team took full benefit of the product’s versatility and incorporated multi-coloured fish and a crocodile into the blue water pathways and a snake, parrot, leaves and a palm tree into the green jungle areas, adding interesting detail and colour to this unique play space.

On our recent visit, it was clear straight away that the children just loved it there and felt like they were embarking on an intrepid jungle adventure, as it sparked their imaginations with the children enjoying the giant ‘splash’ as they landed from the slide; water fun without even getting wet!  It was clear that the installations team had made an excellent job of expertly clearing the old surfacing and out-of-date apparatus and installing the new Wetpour perfectly to fit the play space with its modern timber equipment.

Our design also successfully and fluidly incorporated the recently installed, pre-existing satellite spinner and ride-on spinner, ensuring that the cost to Lakeside Shopping Centre was minimized. Younger children often love to explore the spinners, but we added a popular, colourful Betty Bee Springer to jazz up the lower level equipment, ensuring there was something new for all age groups.

The addition of traditional games, on weather-proof, fade-resistant game panels, such as Noughts and Crosses and 4-in-a-Row now provide the park’s users opportunities to concentrate and develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills through play. These long-established games certainly bring families together and whilst we were visiting, we witnessed 3 generations chatting, explaining and playing together, and it was lovely to hear the stories being shared of years gone by, as well as hearing the introduction of well-known games that were now providing exciting, new experiences to the little ones. The creation of happy memories is priceless.

Space to Spread

The clever design has ensured that the play park not only is packed with enticing equipment where the children can discover and play but also has maintained lots of larger spaces where children can be creative and run wild and free! There is wonderful, smooth, timber equipment of all types and levels that will encourage all children to want to play. There is plenty to challenge them, providing fun outdoor adventure whilst building confidence in children that are taking their first steps in independent, outdoor play. It is a truly inclusive and accessible play space.

Another beneficial money-saver for the Realm Team was our ability to maintain the use of the red fencing that partially enclosed the play park. It is crucial that all children playing at the shopping centre can play freely, but safely, whilst their parents relax, take a shopping break or have a snack.

It is very important to us that adults feel comfortable whilst their children play nearby, so we have included a range of versatile seating options, from smooth, tactile, curved Opus Benches, installed directly into the ground (so they’ll always be at the ready to support a weary shopper) as well as a portable Heavy Duty Garden Bench with comfortable armrests. Dotted around the play park shoppers will discover a variety of seating to suit everyone. The addition of different height Rubber Stepping Posts provides ideal perches for little legs to take a quick rest, as well as providing a fun way to access some of the timber equipment or a place to balance.

Active Adventure

Active Adventure at Lakeside Village Shopping Centre

The beautiful and bespoke Jungle Themed Double Beacon Tower can be accessed from many angles, ensuring the children are instantly engaged, avoiding queues building and providing areas where climbers can rest both underneath and up high. It creates opportunities for playing, climbing and sliding, including a place to stop and look down on the world below, ensuring that children gain in strength and agility as they rest and play.  

This fun Play Tower consists of two sturdy timber towers joined together with an exciting, connecting Clatter Bridge. These allow access to an assortment of descents, ranging from Ladders, a Rockwall, Firefighter’s Pole, Scramble Net and a sturdy, but speedy Slide.  We observed children of all ages and abilities and co-operatively playing side by side. It was lovely to witness the little ones gaining in confidence, climbing up and enjoying hiding under the jungle-themed roof, admiring and commenting upon the cheerful parrot character and attractive palm tree features!

In addition to the Play Tower, a wide range of wooden Adventure Trail Components encourage children to weave, swing, stretch, climb and traverse the play space in limitless ways…travelling how and where their imagination takes them!  The fun Wobbly Bridge develops balance and co-ordination, a traditional Scramble Net Log Climber encourages the children to learn different climbing skills, the challenging Tyre Crossing and adventurous Vertical Rope Weaver all improve body strength and agility as well as determination and resilience! All physical skills that are fun to practice and improve unexpectedly during a day out shopping! What child would not benefit from a stretch, a runaround or a rest outdoors by escaping into this accessible, enticing and visually stimulating world of play? Mind you, during our visit, children of all ages and adults alike were enjoying interacting with the park!

Climbing Challenge

For those budding future mountaineers, we’ve incorporated climbing equipment that specifically develops a variety of climbing skills. Our sturdy timber Hexagonal Climbing Frame houses a wide range of climbing equipment to develop skills.  By ascending bars and ladders, traversing hanging loops or by descending using climbing handholds and nets, children can challenge themselves and increase their strength and agility. The unique hexagonal design enables friends and siblings to climb face to face or play side-by-side. It definitely looked a lot of fun!

An extensive traverse wall is also proving to be very popular, enabling children of all ages to attempt to cross the wall of the shopping centre, by learning to master their traversing skills using the comfortable, rainbow, rubber Hand Holds. This climbing wall demonstrates just one ideal and easy way to use a shop wall so it becomes an integral part of the playground design. Schoolscapes are experts at maximising the use of any location, to create a versatile and unique play park.

Dry Days

We all know how changeable the weather is in the UK, so an important part of the design brief was to make the best use of the extensive, pre-existing, but very attractive shelter. When designing the new, outdoor play space we ensured that the stunning, suspended shelter remained a central feature of the space. We made certain that the core equipment was effectively undercover, whilst still allowing children the chance to choose to play in the open and enjoy the ever-changing elements. Our design encourages children to flow around the whole play area, where they can enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, as well as the occasional splash of rain!

Children love to hide and claim ownership of a little space, however short the time available. So, an exciting element of the playground is the addition of an enticing, timber Outdoor Play Teepee. We discovered how the children loved peeping through the round porthole window whilst engaging in imaginative and social play. They were chatting together, making new friends and enjoying some calm, quiet time inside. One little chap was loving hiding inside and described it as a ‘magic rocket’, peeking out and inviting me in to enjoy his make-believe world.

Inspirational Idea

It was very evident that Lakeside Village Outlet Shopping Centre are now proud owners of a very special, much used and appreciated play area; this is an idea that would suit and compliment many other urban areas with similar establishments. With forward-thinking passion and determination to make a change, anything is possible. In Doncaster, they strived to enhance the customer’s shopping experience and its evident that with the extra support, guidance and tremendous teamwork from Schoolscapes, the whole process has been a huge success.

The success of this large-scale project is now inspiring other commercial premises to take a leap in this direction. Combining play experiences with commercial visits can only enrich the lives of future customers and their families.  Children enjoying fun and adventure whilst out shopping, having space to twist, twirl, climb, chase and shout…what a great provision for generations to come to enjoy!

Retail Therapy with a Twist and Shout! was last modified: May 15th, 2020 by Steve Bell

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