LAPs, LEAPs, and NEAPs

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In the realm of playground planning, terms like LAPs, LEAPs, and NEAPs are frequently utilised by play area planners. However, their meanings might not be universally clear. These acronyms are devised to offer precise technical guidance across various sectors, simplifying the comprehension of the playground equipment provisions. Below we outline the definitions of each acronym, ensuring our customers can easily grasp their significance.

lap playground

Local Area for Play (LAP)

A designated small open space, known as a Local Area for Play (LAP), is strategically laid out within a minute’s walk from residences, specifically tailored for very young children. LAPs are thoughtfully designed to encourage spontaneous play and social interaction among toddlers, relying on demonstrative features rather than specific play equipment.

These LAPs are integral to community planning, situated along well-used pedestrian routes within one minute’s walking distance. The play equipment in LAP areas is designed for children aged 6 and below, incorporating low-level structures defining the play space. Covering a minimum activity zone of 100m2, LAPs maintain a 5m buffer from surrounding properties. If needed, fencing with a recommended height of 60cm ensures safety. LAPs also include seating for parents or caregivers and appropriate signage, creating a secure and enjoyable environment for young children.

In newly developed housing estates, LAP areas serve as invaluable solutions, attracting new and expectant parents by offering a safe and communal space for their young children to play, fostering a sense of community and security.

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Local Equipment Area for Play (LEAP)

A Local Equipment Area for Play (LEAP) is a specially designated space located within a 5-minute walking distance along a frequently used pedestrian route. Tailored for children beginning to engage in independent outdoor play, LEAPs are equipped with formal play structures. These playgrounds offer diverse play experiences, including at least 3 distinct play items, fostering physical, creative, intellectual, social, and solitary play. The play area covers a minimum of 400m², leaving ample room for active games like tag within its boundaries.

Safety is paramount in LEAPs, with a 10-meter buffer zone between the play area and house boundaries, and a 20-meter buffer from habitable room facades of dwellings. If the LEAP is near a road, fencing is installed, and in public open spaces, landscaping is utilised. These areas also provide seating and litter bins for parents and caregivers, ensuring a comfortable environment.

LEAPs are intended for early school-age children (4-12 years), with consideration for other age groups. They serve as focal points for children learning to play away from direct parental control, encouraging independence and responsibility. LEAPs are typically located within 10 minutes’ safe walking distance from the homes they serve, allowing for informal supervision either from nearby houses or well-used pedestrian routes.

In urban planning, LEAPs are usually not placed in developments of fewer than 30 houses, unless a lack of play areas exists. Each LEAP serves between 30 and 100 dwellings, and larger developments of over 100 houses may require multiple LEAPs. Specific guidelines dictate the location, size, and layout of LEAPs, ensuring functional, safe, and enjoyable play spaces for children while preventing duplication and promoting community engagement.

Check out some of our LEAP case studies

LEAP Hampshire LEAP Bournemouth LEAP Kent LEAP, Didcot

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Neighbourhood Equipped Area for Play (NEAP)

A Neighbourhood Equipped Area for Play (NEAP) is a designated open space strategically positioned within a 15-minute walking distance along a frequently used pedestrian route. Primarily targeted at older children but inclusive of younger users, NEAPs provide stimulating play opportunities with a minimum of 8 diverse play experiences, including at least 5 distinct items of varying difficulties. The play area spans a minimum of 1000m², divided into two sections: one for play equipment and an area of 465m² dedicated to hard surfaces, ideal for activities like 5-a-side football, roller skating, and cycling.

For safety and privacy, a 30-meter buffer is maintained between the activity area and the nearest dwelling. If the NEAP is adjacent to roads, fencing is installed; in public open spaces, landscaping defines the boundaries. NEAPs are equipped with seating for parents and carers, litter bins, secure bicycle parking, and appropriate signage, ensuring a comfortable and secure environment. These areas are particularly suitable for established communities, providing essential space for older children to engage in physical, creative, intellectual, social, and solitary play. Additionally, teen-focused provisions include kickabout/basketball areas, opportunities for wheeled play like skateboarding and roller skating, as well as designated meeting spots.

A NEAP should be centrally located within a residential development, catering to a wide range of children, including those with special needs. Sited within a 15-minute safe walking time from the homes it serves, NEAPs serve as vibrant hubs within communities, encouraging active play, social interaction, and the overall well-being of children and teenagers alike.

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