Children's playground at Crabtree Fields, Fitzrovia, London.

Camden Council has closed the children’s playground at Crabtree Fields because parts of it are in need of repair. However, Camden says they want to remove and replace most of the equipment.

“I write to inform you that we have been advised that wooden play features at Crabtree Fields have reached their end of life and require removal. We will be shutting the playground and will then arrange the removal of the wooden structures as soon as possible. Camden Green space will work with yourselves on any new design or asset proposals going forward. The existing swing will be opened for public use as soon as possible,” said Camden in an email to the Friends group on 19 October 2021.

Camden had previously written to the Friends group to say that playground would be closed and the equipment would be completely replaced except for the swings.

Children's climbing frame in playground.

“The multi play unit has reached its end of life I am afraid. The most recent independent inspection of the unit highlighted the cracked and rotten timbers and the level of risk is such we need to plan for its removal. The other assets including the swings will remain and as they in good condition.

“The design of this area and any replacement assets will be discussed with the friends of Crabtree Fields to ensure the space is improved and can be enjoyed. In addition we are aware of the ongoing anti-social behaviour issues at the site and redesign we will help address these issues,” said Oliver Jones in an email to the Friends on 28 May 2021.

We disagree that all the equipment needs to be replaced as most of it seems to be in good condition.

We requested a copy of the “independent inspection” report via a FOI request. Some parts of our request were refused but the report we wanted was provided. You can read it below.

The report found that the playground presented a “medium risk” and parts of it were in need of repair or replacement.

Camden is in the habit of failing to maintain anything properly and prefers to spend (or waste) large amounts of capital money rather that spend anything on maintenance. It seems to be incapable of spending money wisely or looking after anything (eg nearby Whitfield Gardens).

In this instance it appears to be very wasteful — and unnecessary — to remove everything from the playground (apart from the swings) and replace it with a new design.

The Friends group would prefer that the rotten and broken timbers are repaired or replaced so the playground is only closed for a short period, rather than be closed for months on end and waiting while Camden comes up a new design, rips everything out and installs new equipment.

The playground is enjoyed by the children and their families who visit it but a common complaint is that it is not cleaned very often (or at all!).