A bigger splash: Strong support for new waterplay facility on Clapham Common

Public consultation on the proposal to replace of the old and disused paddling pool on Clapham Common with a modern and interactive waterplay feature has now closed.

Consultation went live in mid-March 2022 and 614 people responded to the survey with an overwhelming 95% approving of the approach to replace the paddling pool with a new waterplay feature. Some 87% strongly approve. See graph.

The number of people responding is far more than expected and the feedback overwhelmingly supportive with both the upgrade and the proposed outline design. 

By far the majority of respondents – 84% – are from parents and carers with children under 12 years old and 98% are local residents with 82% living within a 15 minute walk of Clapham Common.

There are over 800 individual comments to take on board from respondents in the 40 page consultation report. People were keen to express their opinion on a project they support and look forward to enjoying.

When asked to list their top five priorities to be included in the final design, the first was a fully accessible toilet with around two-thirds of respondents listing this as the number one issue. Respondents were also keen to see improved green landscaping around the enclosed area and more shaded tree canopy to rest and relax.

There has also been some helpful and insightful suggestions to ensure the waterplay feature can be used by children with disabilities and autism. 

Lambeth Council led the face-to-face consultation which took place at the Mud Club at The Spinney, the children’s natural play club on Windmill Drive, and at the Bandstand on Clapham Common. 

NappyValleyNet and many other local social media outlets also helped circulate the survey within their networks. The survey was also sent to local schools for circulation among teachers and parents.

The survey was also distributed by This is Clapham, the local BID; Friends of Clapham Common; Best of Clapham; and CCMAC’s website and social media accounts. 

In a survey on Instagram, the proposed waterplay facility was ranked equal top with the new meadow being created as the most favoured new development on Clapham Common announced this year.

More detailed plans are now being drawn up based on the feedback received through the consultation and the planning approval process is now under way.

Lambeth Council will go out to tender over the summer to invite contractors to bid for the work.

It is planned to open the new facility before summer next year.

Typical comments from respondents on the need for toilets read: 

“Toilets and changing area would be useful given children will have to be changed out of wet clothes and there are no other public toilets nearby.” 

“I have two little kids. My older one enjoyed the old paddling pool before corona and I believe he and his little brother would love the new one even more as you are planning to install more facilities.”

Other residents commented on the importance of the revitalised water facility: 

“The disused paddling pool has been an under utilised space for many years, and this would revitalise and bring it back into community use. There are also a large number of young families without gardens in the area that this would be an incredible community amenity.”

“Wonderful free outdoor activity open to all children. Helps with mental and physical health and well-being. Good for community mixing.” 

More comments: 

“The pool has been there for years and I have lots of memories there and so does my family. There are so many families in the area and not enough activities and the children would love it in the hot summers.” 

“I used to play in that paddling pool as a child and it’s a shame to see the area going to waste. It would be lovely to have a waterplay area there, for our children to enjoy. I think it’s an incredible idea!”