Family fun for all at Cannon Hall Farm

Customer: Cannon Hall Farm

Location: South Yorkshire

Project brief

The Cannon Hall Farm playground project’s goal was to enhance the farm’s appeal, increase visitor numbers, and extend customers’ time on-site by creating engaging and innovative play spaces for children of all ages and abilities. The project was executed in two phases: the first phase (completed in 2023) focused on creating a discovery role-play area and a large farm-themed toddler village, while the second phase targeted the redevelopment of a junior play area to create a wow factor inclusive space for all ages and abilities.

Playground design

Inspired by the success of phase one the second phase focused on an underutilised junior area. The Cannon Hall Farm team were fantastic to work with through the design phase. Following regular meetings with them, Playdale had a real feel for their desired end product of a large themed playground to attract and entertain the children that visit this park each year.

They wanted to keep the large tower slides but redevelop the surrounding play areas and replace them with a fresh, new look. This space lacked excitement and incurred high maintenance costs due to splitting and rotting timbers. The new design needed to be robust and low maintenance,  incorporating theming that took cues from Cannon Hall Farms’ various animals and exhibitions.

During the design phase of the project, the Cannon Hall Farm team realised there was a significant lack of inclusive equipment in the current playground. We proposed replacing another section, installed by Playdale over 20 years ago and still in very good condition, with a new, inclusive space where children of all ages and abilities could play together. Committed to meeting the needs of all visitors, the farmers decided to upgrade both areas simultaneously.

3D visualisation of the proposed design at Cannon Hall Farm

The complete proposal was presented to the Cannon Hall Farm team, who received it with great enthusiasm. They were impressed by our designs and how closely we adhered to and addressed their needs and were delighted to be awarded the contract for this exciting project.

Project challenges

Ensuring the safety and well-being of both visitors and animals on an open farm presents distinctive challenges. Throughout the project, the team remained aware of the potential for noise disruption, considering the installation’s location on a working farm. They meticulously coordinated the installation of the new playground to minimise any disturbance to the farm’s daily operations, resident animals and its visitors.

Surfacing fixings during the installation

During the pre-start stage, trial holes revealed poor ground conditions, necessitating a swift change in the method of fixing the units to ensure safety and longevity. As a result, the steel ground fixings for all selected equipment had to be surface-fixed rather than conventionally concreted into deep holes in the ground. This unexpected issue required prompt problem-solving and adaptation.

The project faced significant challenges due to adverse weather conditions, particularly frequent rain. To adhere to the strict opening deadline, the team allocated additional manpower and worked efficiently to meet the Easter deadline.

Aerial view of the playground

 The results

Cannon Hall Farm is now home to a vast range of play equipment for children of all ages and abilities. At the heart of the junior area stands one of our most extensive customised junior multi-play units to date, boasting 21 (yes 21!) towers. Its tropical theme paid homage to the Cannon Hall Farm reptile house, with snakes, frogs, and the renowned leaf-cutter ants traversing the structure as a nod to the farm’s iconic features.

Inclusive play area Cannon Hall Farm

The inclusive play area wa designed with accessibility in mind, featuring easy-access ramps, spacious slides, and sensory elements throughout the mangrove-themed playground. In addition to these features, the area boasted an Inclusive Orbit roundabout, panels for sensory stimulation, and interactive Loudspeakers. Sheltered seating was thoughtfully integrated into the design to ensure comfort in all weather conditions.

The transition from bark to a permanent, natural-looking surface of Playdale Bonded Rubber Lunch eliminated the need for regular maintenance and improved accessibility for pushchairs and wheelchairs. The project’s completion met the grand opening deadline for Easter, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the installation team.

Robert Nicholson, farm director, said: “We think our new playground is a fantastic first step and a significant improvement to what was there before…we have absolutely tried our best as a company to make our playgrounds more inclusive – and we have had some really wonderful feedback from families who have already been to experience it.”

The collaboration between Cannon Hall Farm and Playdale resulted in a state-of-the-art play area that not only attracts more visitors but also provides a safe, enjoyable, and inclusive environment for children, cementing Cannon Hall Farm’s reputation as an award-winning visitor attraction.

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