Battersea Park Adventure Playground is facing a double blow after Wandsworth Council announced plans to axe staff and replace existing equipment with "bland, risk-free" alternatives.

On Friday, the council announced it had found £200,000 to create a "new look" adventure playground with new equipment that would not require staffing.

The surprise announcement masked a significant turn-around for the council which last summer controversially announced plans to introduce admission fees at the park.

Following a storm of opposition it went back to the drawing board.

But critics, surprised that the cash-strapped council was now prepared to spend money on the playground, have condemned the plan which they believe will take all the adventure out of the playground.

Play organisations such as London Play and Play England have poured scorn on the plans claiming that the replacement equipment being proposed is practically risk free and it would rob city children of the chance to experience excitement and grow through taking risks in a controlled environment.

The council believes the changes will save £130,000 a year from the current £225,000 cost of the playground and would also allow it to stay open for longer.

Cath Prisk, director of PlayEngland, said: "Adventure playgrounds have staff. They have added risk and allow children the wild spaces and freedom they need to roam so they can work out their limitations and learn social skills."

Paul Hocker, play development manager at London Play, questioned whether it should still be called an adventure playground.

He said: "If you install anodyne play equipment, older kids won't use it because it isn't stimulating. To bring in this equipment and still describe it as an "adventure" playground would also surely be a breach of the trades description act or even false advertising."

The council has said it will try to "redeploy" an undisclosed number of affected staff within the town hall but could not offer any guarantees on job security.

Councillor Kathy Tracey, Children’s services spokesman, said: “In drawing up these proposals our aim from the outset was to find a way of continuing to provide an exciting and challenging adventure playground that would remain popular and attractive to young people.

“This was set against the backdrop of needing to make significant budgetary savings as a result of the country’s debt and deficit levels. We must reduce our spending by £70m over four years, including by £30m in the current financial year alone, so maintaining the status quo was not an option.

We have explored a range of different proposals and believe we have come up with a coherent and sustainable way of keeping this popular leisure facility open, ensuring that young people can go on enjoying it free of charge and at the same time making the kind of savings we need to make.”

Jane Eades, from Wandsworth Against Cuts (WAC), questioned the social impact any cuts would bring and called for the council to She said: "Before Christmas many members of the public attended the council meeting which was opened with a Christian prayer. "WAC's view is that Wandsworth Council has should be practising what it preaches.

"If Wandsworth Council are seriously thinking of saving money by removing staffing from any or all its adventure playgrounds then either its councillors have no understanding of the job of a playleader or they are cynically providing a recruiting office for drug pushers and gang leaders.

"Combined with their council tenant eviction policy and their wish to bring back council house sales, this amounts, at best, to social cleansing and, at worst, gerrymandering.

"If the council wish to create a brighter (and happier) borough, they should add the social consequences of their actions into their balance sheets."