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Outdoor Play Spaces Investment Strategy

Meeting: 21/03/2024 - Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee (Item 23)

23 Outdoor Play Spaces Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 951 KB

Additional documents:


Matter for Decision

The Outdoor Play Place Spaces Investment Strategy (Strategy) detailed in Appendix B of the Officer’s report provided a framework to steer future outdoor play provision and associated investment decisions. The Strategy was supported by a Business Intelligence (BI) Platform1 which would enable the Council to use real time data to respond to changes in the play portfolio in an informed, timely and business efficient and effective manner.


The Strategy had been developed using an updated audit of outdoor play provision including an assessment of the play portfolio’s current quantity, quality, and accessibility against current and future population growth.


The results of this assessment had been used to devise a ‘tiered’ system to identify where deficiencies and over provision exist in terms of quantity, quality and accessibility and explored how these factors could be evaluated and overcome.


The Strategy updated and reviewed the previous work dated 2016-2021 and responds to population growth but also the delivery of new play provision in the City as well as proposing a new data driven approach.


The strategic approach informs how the Council could think differently about the future of the service delivery and to investigate ways to make smarter decisions, the project and its outputs had been led using the Power BI Platform.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Open Spaces and City Services

      i.          Approved and adopted the proposed Outdoor Play Spaces Investment Strategy at set out in appendix B of the Officer’s report; and

     ii.          Instructed Officers to adopt and implement the key conclusions and recommendations from the report as follows:

a.    To licence the software platform to enable the council to maintain real-time data for the play space provision strategy and drive business efficiency within the portfolio,

b.    Implement the proposed tiered structure for the play space provision, incorporating different tiers to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and provide a more organised approach to the delivery of play spaces across the City.

c.    To review financial focus, direct attention and resources towards sites that currently had limited equipment, aiming to diversify and enhance recreational offerings.

d.    Explore the possibility of transitioning the play space surfaces in areas covered only by grass to versatile multifunctional, year-round surfaces that could accommodate various activities particularly in lower order tier sites.

e.    Use the tiered data to make future recommendations on the allocation of funds for both local and strategic outdoor play provision, such as S106, CIL, bids to the Council’s capital plan, and external investment opportunities.

   iii.          Instruct Officers to use the data and information to enhance the Councils webpages in relation to outdoor play spaces; to include maps with lists of equipment available at each site and accompanying photographs.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Strategic Delivery Manager.


The Strategic Delivery Manager said the following in response to Members’ questions:

      i.          Figures on the play space webpage dashboard gave estimates of the numbers of people using play areas. Data would be regularly updated to keep it as accurate as possible.

     ii.          The EQiA in the Officers’ report set out details about accessible play spaces. The public facing online tool would allow people to see the types of play spaces available, facilities and location.

   iii.          Officers would visit sites to take pictures of facilities to upload onto the website so people could see what facilities were available ie what was appropriate for their child’s needs. The intention was to have a variety of facilities provided across different sites.

   iv.          The Outdoor Play Spaces Investment Strategy was a tool to target investment, catalogue facilities, identify facilities that need repair (quicker than possible in the past) and spare parts available for repairs.

    v.          The data demonstrated the value of tier 4 play areas so they had merit to be retained.


The Executive Councillor for Open Spaces and City Services said:

      i.          The Council wanted a diversity of play space sites across the city.

     ii.          There was no proposal to close sites. If some areas were not well used, the Council would engage with residents and Ward Councillors to see if equipment could be used more effectively somewhere else in the city to get best value out of assets available.

   iii.          Tier classification for a given play space related to objective characteristics, with size being particularly important.


The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendations.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendations.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.