The Association of Play Industries (API), who uncovered the alarming decline in playgrounds in their Nowhere to Play report, has welcomed the £13m government pledge to help improve Britain’s parks.

Mark Hardy, Chair of the Association of Play Industries, comments: “We are delighted to see a commitment being made to support outdoor activity and specifically play. It is an important step in the right direction and recognition of the positive impact playgrounds have on millions of children’s lives, particularly those in deprived areas.

“However, whilst it is a welcome boost, the sheer extent of the decline in parks highlighted in the Mail on Sunday’s Save Our Parks campaign and in our Nowhere to Play research, means that a sustained commitment from government is needed to offset the impact of years of closures and neglect.”

In April 2017, the Association of Play Industries Nowhere to Play report first uncovered the state of playground decline in England, revealing the closure of hundreds of playgrounds.  Using the Freedom of Information Act, the API has once again asked local authorities to disclose current and planned playground closures and found:

  • By 2020/21 there will have been a decrease in spend on play facilities of 44% since 2017/18
  • In 2016/17 local authorities closed 63 playgrounds and in 2017/18 a further 70 playgrounds have been closed.
  • Since 2014 local authorities have closed a total of 347 playgrounds across England.
  • There will be a decrease in spend on playgrounds of over £13m each year on average across England.
  • Local authorities estimate a decrease in their spending on playgrounds of £25m by 2021.

“We need a clear, unequivocal and long-term commitment to play and activity in the UK and the benefits it brings to young people,” adds Mark.  “The lost playground provision that our research has uncovered should be replaced at a minimum before many parks are lost for good.

“An investment now of £100 million would provide a further 1,600 playgrounds and play spaces – which is only 10% rise on the number that local authorities reported to be running in 2011. However, the long-term savings made by government in terms of children’s physical and mental health and the cohesion of communities, would far offset this relatively modest investment.

“We join the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government in his call for this pledge to be the start of a ‘new conversation’ about how parks and playgrounds add value.  Our hope is that this marks the beginning of government prioritizing these spaces by providing local authorities with the funding they need to follow through and deliver.”

—— End ——



The Association of Play Industries (API) is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing. Founded in 1984, the API currently has 63 members.

The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing Sports and Play Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries.