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Services: Design

Why employ a designer?

Designers can give inspirational, pragmatic advice on how to approach the process of change on your site. By having an overview on the situation, all the different strands of site opportunities and constraints, the needs of users and the budget available can be pulled together into a scheme that really works for your setting.

Jane has worked as a teacher and playworker in many different settings so really understands how things work in schools and pre-schools from the inside as well.

"Jane was recommended to me by Jan White, as a designer who knows not only about landscape but also about how young children learn and develop. She worked with the whole staff team to incorporate their ideas and knowledge of our children then delivered some practical, hands on training to further benefit the development of the area. Jane's passion to create an area that is both practical and exciting was apparent at every stage and the end result was everything we had hoped for and more. We will definitely be asking for Jane's help on future projects!"
- Marie Burke, Crigglestone DayCare Manager, Wakefield



"Jane really focussed our thinking and made us realise that we needed to look at what the children enjoyed outdoors before making plans for elaborate static equipment that looked pretty but serviced no-ones needs."
- Julie Thorpe, Early Years Development Manager, Shiregreen Children's Centre

"Before, we had an area for our Foundation children that essentially was just a dead space – an uninspiring mass of concrete with nothing in it and no facilities to go out in bad weather. We had a 'wish list' of what we wanted and Jane made the wish list come to life! Jane has an educational viewpoint from her background as a teacher. This helped so much rather than working with a 'normal' landscape architect - she knew how the children (and staff) would interact with the space. Now the children are outside all day, whatever the weather. They do messy play, exploring, digging... none of this was possible before. I overheard a Y5 child say to our Head the other day 'Have you seen the new playground? It's like heaven!! Why didn't we get this?' "
- Helena Reid, Assistant Head at Firs Hill Community Primary School, Sheffield

Creating a Vision Plan for your setting


Vision plan

What is a 'Vision Plan'?

A 'Vision Plan' is a colourful pictorial plan at 1:100 or 1:200 scale (usually at A3 size for most sites) showing how your site could be developed to maximise its potential for play and learning. It will have brief notes on it to explain the character and possible use of each area.

A Vision Plan can be used to plan phased development (if needed) and helps enormously with fundraising as it shows the thought and rationale behind why the area is being developed.

It is accompanied by a brief report with notes in more detail about the design layout with suggestions for materials and planting styles.

How is a Vision Plan developed?


In order to really understand a setting and its requirements fully, ideally all the people who use and are responsible for the site need to be consulted. Therefore this means talking to the staff who work with the children, the children themselves, the lunchtime supervisors and the building supervisors. Governors' and parents' views will also be welcomed.

This can be achieved in a number of ways. The setting can conduct its own consultation process through meetings, letters or questionnaires. Alternatively, we can come in to assist with gathering the most relevant information about the current situation alongside presenting some realistic example ideas as to what might be possible in the space. A training session with staff in using outdoor spaces effectively can be really useful at this point as it will highlight what is good about the space and practice and clarify any issues that still need to be addressed or provided for.

Design and Report

We will take all the information and requirements obtained from the site users and pull it together into a 'brief' for the site. This brief will form the focus for both the design and the report. Using 'to-scale' site plans (provided by the client if available or alternatively commissioned via a surveyor) an outline design is drawn up. This will be discussed with the users of the setting so any changes can be made before being finalised and presented.

Once the scope of the scheme is decided with layout, construction and materials all agreed, like-for-like comparable quotes for the scheme to be implemented can be obtained from local landscape contractors - three quotes are recommended.

What is NOT included in a Vision Plan?

Yard Explorers do not provide detailed construction/planting information and quantities of materials as part of the Vision Plan process.

We can recommend further assistance with this through our network of professionals as needed, depending on the complexity of details included in the scheme.

Design consultancy clients:

Ashby Turn Education Preparation Unit, Scunthorpe; Beck Primary School, Sheffield; Biggin Hill Primary School, Hull; Broomhall Children's Centre, Sheffield; Crigglestone Daycare, Wakefield; Desertegney Community Playgroup, Co. Donegal; Firs Hill Community Primary School; First Start Sure Start Children's Centre, Sheffield; Meersbrook Bank Primary School, Sheffield; Milefield Children's Centre Grimethorpe, Barnsley;
Milefield Early Years Unit, Grimethorpe, Barnsley; Norfolk County Council; Pipworth Primary School, Sheffield; RSPB Bempton, East Yorkshire; Shiregreen Children's Centre, Sheffield; Slinn St. STARters Community Pre-School, Sheffield; St. Bede's Primary, Rotherham; St Luke's Nursery, Sheffield; St Thomas' Nursery, Sheffield; Whitefield Primary School, Liverpool; Wybourn Children’s Centre, Sheffield; Wybourn Primary School, Sheffield;

See design case studies