Part of the Recreation Ground comprises a fenced playground area which is very well used by residents and visitors alike. However, some of the equipment was old with associated increasing maintenance costs and some was in disrepair. Substantial expenditure was required in order to make the existing play area comply with current Health & Safety RoSPA advice.
In 2016 the Parish Council recognised that the necessary refurbishment could include an upgrade, in order to extend the age range, play value, suitability and accessibility of the equipment.
The upgrade initiative started with some basic fact finding including a survey of parents and children (and grandparents). The majority of adults consulted considered much of the equipment to be limited, especially for the very young and older children, and needed updating. Accessibility was also of concern. Modern play equipment increases play value by combining multiple features and skills development (balance, co-operation, agility, strength, communication). Multi-use equipment also means better value for money and broader appeal for all.
The Parish Council therefore embarked on planning an ambitious refurbishment programme, with Phase I to include removing some of the old equipment, installing a new Kanope play structure, and retaining some of the newer existing kit; all to provide a wider variety of activities for children. Play value, accessibility, safety, durability, cost and environmental sensitivity were all considered.
The cost of Phase I was estimated to be in the region of £36k (excl VAT). Extra cost will also be incurred for replacement fencing around the play area.
In 2017 the Parish Council sought grant aid for the project from various agencies. Demand is high for this sort of thing, and there is fierce competition for limited funds. We were therefore delighted to be successful in obtaining grant support from The Big Lottery Fund (£10,000) and from SGN (£1,000). A further £3000 was offered by the developer of the new houses adjacent to the recreation ground, in return for allowing a rainwater soakaway to be installed on the field. The new multi-play equipment was ordered at the end of 2017 and installed during April 2018. It includes slides, cabins, a climbing wall and ropes (see above illustration) and is already proving very popular with children from the village and visitors. Most of the existing equipment on site will remain; it is fundamentally in good condition, popular with families, and blends in with its environment. All the current equipment has undergone minor repairs and monitoring will continue. An annual inspection by RoSPA was carried out in June 2018 and all eqipment was passed as safe to use.
Provision has been made in the forward three-year financial review for Phase II of the upgrade project.