Kids design amazing benches for Melbourne Science Park

Kids and dignitaries have launched amazing outdoor street furniture at Melbourne Science Park, including a dog bench that can actually bark!

The benches were designed by Year 5 students from Melbourne Primary School and will brighten up large areas of open space in the science park.

The launch event was attended by Liz Watts, Chief Executive of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Heather Jones, Greater Cambridge Deputy Director of Shared Planning, Melbourne Councilor Sally Ann Hart and Melbourne Councilor Jose Hales.

The launch was also attended by 70 students from Melbourne Village College. Greater Cambridge Shared Planning (GCSP) staff helped them explore the biodiversity in the large park and learn how living things are connected. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a way to contribute to the restoration of nature while developing land. It ensures that wildlife habitat is in better condition than it was before development.

Prior to the event, the GCSP Youth Engagement team held fun workshops with 60 Melbourne primary school children. Students visited the Melbourne Science Park, learned about good placemaking principles and applied their newfound knowledge to help design the park’s open spaces. This was to ensure that the proposed redevelopment of Bruntwood Group’s Life Science Development at Melbourne Science Park was child-friendly.

Children participated in a street furniture design competition. The winning designs have now been constructed into street furniture by the developer. Three of the benches will be located in the park and two of the benches have been donated to the school.

The children were also taught the importance of environmental sustainability and given career advice on steps to become an urban designer, landscape architect and urban planner.

It is important that local children are consulted about proposals in their area and that planning applications include their views. The workshop gives children the opportunity to have real input into the planning and decision-making process.

Cllr Dr Toomey Hawkins, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for planning policy and development management, said: “Thank you to the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Youth Engagement Team for another inspiring event, engaging our next generation of planners and facilitating the creation of imaginative outdoor furniture that will stand the test of time.

“As our Community Engagement Statement gets underway, it is essential that we engage with our young people and other underrepresented groups. We want to ensure that as many people as possible can participate and share their views and aspirations for the future development of Greater Cambridge.

“Looking at the wonderful benches and the work of the children of Melbourne, I’m sure this event will be long remembered.”

Cllr Jose Hales, local member for Melbourne, said: “This amazing event has inspired our next generation to get involved in the planning process and have fun along the way. The benches designed by the children were so imaginative and the sausage dog that barks when you turn a handle was a definite hit! Thanks to the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Youth Engagement team, the developers Bruntwood Group and all the children for their wonderful creativity.”

Councilor Sally Ann Hart, local member for melbourne, said: “What a wonderful day everyone! It felt great to watch the enthusiasm on the faces of the Melbourne primary school children when the benches were unveiled and I don’t believe they ever thought their ideas would be passed on. I was also really impressed with the input from the Year 7 students during the discussions during the morning session – the level of planning and provision of learning resources was excellent and we are really inspiring the next generation of planners.”

A student from Melbourne sits on a bench she designed

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