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Mint Street Park Adventure Playground

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Tuesday 28 November 2006 2.56pm
We (Bankside Open Spaces Trust)are starting this thread to pick up more views on the proposed redevelopment of Mint Street Advenutre Playground to provide multi-purpose community facilities for everyone but with an emphasis on toddlers, children and young people. BOST have been working with Southwark Council to look at ways that the redevelopment could make a lasting positive impact on safety and leisure use of the park as well (as the site is adjacent to it). We're looking at a potential new building on the playground site, to include new indoor and outdoor play facilities, new BOST offices, hall for hire, possibly a community cafe and gym. Lots more detail on our website We know SE1 users have been very concerned about the use and safty of the park. So what do you think?
Thursday 30 November 2006 11.16am
Took me a while to find the info on the BOST site but it is here:

I think the plans sound good. I like the idea of a rooftop vegetable garden.

A cafe is a good idea if it can be sustainable and have affordable prices. (eg Cafe Arlington up the road is nice but it is at least as expensive as Starbucks ).
Thursday 30 November 2006 12.02pm
I have posted before on how setting up a park cafe is almost always a good way of bringing people in to a park. I was talking about this to some people recently while we were in the park. We saw a woman come in with two kids. She stood in the play area while they played on the frames etc.. She looked pretty bored. After about 5 minutes they left.

Now if there was a cafe beside the play area she could have sat with a coffee - perhaps chatted to some other people there. In my example above, the woman may just have been busy and not bored, but I know that cafes give people a strong reason to spend a bit of time actually in the park. You get parents and kids, office workers with lunch, students hanging out etc.. - the typical mix you get in any cafe.

Obviously I would like to see something like the cafe in Highbury Fields (very nice!), but the cafe in Southwark Park is a good example of how this can be done cheaply and well.

This is particularly important for Mint Street park because it is only the presence of other people which will make the park feel safe and welcoming. You can only do so much with clever planting and fences and park furniture. Ultimately people will only go and spend time in Mint St Park only if they see other people in there.

I wish BOST all the best with their plans. This is a great opportunity to do something which will help revitalise Mint St Park. But if you don't put a cafe in, the park will remain relatively under-used and unwelcoming for another decade.

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Thursday 14 December 2006 1.04pm
I quite agree, red_bus. And not the sort of cafe that's only open on weekdays and closes at 3pm.

The social enterprise cafe at the Living Space in Waterloo is a good example. I often think it's a shame that the cafe there is only open during weekday office hours.
Thursday 14 December 2006 2.22pm
Absolutely. Every day I see more flats being built around Mint Street Park and down towards E&C. But, these new local people will not spend time in Mint St Park if it remains windswept and under-used, because they can spend time easily elsewhere (i.e. the riverside).

But a Park Cafe can be really effective in bringing local people (both new and existing residents) into the park. And yes, it will work just as well at weekends and summer evenings (even if summer evenings seem very far away in Dec.!).

People can sit around, read the weekend papers, have a coffee and a sticky bun, let their kids play in the play-areas, buy a sandwich, get to know other people who live locally, enjoy the park, and so on.. It would be great.

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Friday 15 December 2006 10.32am
i totally agree with the idea of a cafe. And I think it should be a good one-able to hold it's own against the commercial ones.

A cafe done badly can feel like the canteen in a hospital, but with the lovely park around there is scope for it to be a real magnet.

And I have been very well impressed with the BOST plans and work so far. The Redcliffe garden is fantastic, and getting better each season.

(Please note that I am not a member of BOST, nor is 'one of my household' a member). I can't speak for the staff.
Wednesday 27 December 2006 11.06pm
hi everyone,
i think a cafe in the new development will be a great idea, mabey one that can be run by the community.
as well as being a cafe, it could double as a teaching aid for healthy eating, it should'nt be a greasey cafe not that i got anything against them i'm in them most lunch times.
mint st adventure playground has just had some money spent on the structures outside looks great if you got kids bring them down open again 10-1-07.
Friday 29 December 2006 11.57am
The Camden Society carried out a feasibility study for a supported employment cafe in Archbishops. The idea being that there would be income streams from those supported employment jobs as well as the potential for off-site catering. (Much nicer to get the sarnies for an office lunch from a good cause than from M&S or Pret a Manger .)Plus perhaps some on site management functions and funding streams(in Archbishops case the football and tennis and the changing rooms) as well as links with other organisations for example giving customer and sales experiences to others in the area under-going supported employment training.

The Archbishops and cafe saga is enough to make anyone weep. But the feasibility study was a very good piece of work, and might help give ideas. I am not too sure who technically owns it but BOST might try Lambeth Parks (a bloke called Hamish) or Camden Society. I have a fairly final draft.

Also worth going to Platform 1 in Battersea (hard to find but near Clapham Junction) which is run by the Camden Society.

Friday 29 December 2006 4.11pm
I remember reading some time ago now in a magazine (Sat/Sun Times possibly), about a park cafe in Crouch End which had been a spectacular local success. The woman who runs it gave up an office job to do it after being sick of seeing the old boarded up grafitti-ed one in her local park. It's made a real difference to the community and she serves wholesome, kid friendly food.
Friday 2 February 2007 4.46pm
Thanks very much for all your encouragement, particularly about the cafe. We have become increasingly aware of the importance of having the cafe, not least because it will mean the centre becomes a friendly place for all parts of the local community, not just those with children. And it would be great to have the cafe and park link - I will follow up the other examples you've suggested. We've also been pondering whether we would be able to grow enough vegetables (as we already do at the Diversity Garden in King James Street) to provide a small amount for the cafe - BOST volunteers, particularly the children, love growing veg!

We're still drafting a business plan and trying to ensure that we can maximise free access for children and young people (a priority) balanced with generating income (mainly through hourly hire of space) to keep the centre going. We do want to increase the size of the ball court slightly to bring it up to standards which will mean teams can use it to compete in national five-a-side competitions etc. In the meantime, Jason's been able to use a small amount of grant funding to get some new equipment up in the adventure playground so it's a lot more fun down there now!
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