By Cllr. Billi Randall
The simple fact is there is no playspace for children of any age in Graveney Ward. This deprivation has been recognised by Wandsworth Council, although nothing has been done about it.
Some years ago, there were a few items of outdoor play equipment outside Gravenel Gardens – but these were removed and the site sold. The Council claimed there are not many children living in Gravenel Gardens and the residents wanted it removed because the space had become associated with antisocial behaviour.
The problem with playspace is finding the space. There is only one patch of open grass in the ward, and that is in Lime Tree Walk on the St Benedict’s Estate. Most of the rest of the ward is covered with housing and there is little scope to find open space. However, there are a few options that could be explored.
Shared playspace: There are three primary schools in the ward and next year, there will be a fourth. It might be possible to negotiate with one or more of the schools to open up their playgrounds out of hours for their playspace to available to local residents. But there are problems associated with this idea. For pre-school children, this would not make playspace available during the working day and schools do not necessarily have their playspace placed to be generally accessible. Any reorganisation of playgrounds could not be paid for by the schools, as they are under a duty to spend their budget on their children.
Find an open space: Some years ago, there was a suggestion to convert an underused car park in Rame Close into a garden. We talked to residents to see if it could be used as a basketball cage. However, they objected to the idea and argued that it would attract antisocial behaviour. But, it might be possible to develop a small playground there. There is some open space between Longley Road and Renmuir St. This would be big enough for a small playground. However, the one resident that we spoke to reacted rather violently against the idea.
There are one or two house size patches on the Totterdown Fields estate that presumably belong to the Council – but they might not be big enough. Another possibility is to do something that would make it easier to access the facilities on Tooting Common – if there could be some sort of directed walk with points of interest along the way.
There are a number of organisations that might be approached to help with establishing a playspace. But the key to solving the problem is to find a space where residents are willing to host a playground and for the Council to be willing to ensure that the playground is fenced and secure at night.
Any comments or suggestions from Graveney residents would be welcome – get in touch!