Play areas to benefit from parish council investment

June 06 2013

YOUNGSTERS in Downend will benefit from thousands of pounds of investment to improve the tired play facilities in the area.

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Play areas to benefit from parish council investment

YOUNGSTERS in Downend will benefit from thousands of pounds of investment to improve tired play facilities in the area.

So far around £35,000 has been set aside by the parish council for new equipment at Leap Valley and King George V play areas.

And this could be boosted by a further £10,000 grant set to be rubber-stamped by South Gloucestershire council officials any day.

Work will start on June 3 on a £10,000 refurbishment of Leap Valley play area, off Aintree Drive, as part of Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council’s vision for the future of the area.

Parish councillor Mary Lewis, who chairs the council’s open spaces committee, said: “The play area at Leap Valley is not good so the refurbishment will be exciting.

“There’s going to be swings, a see-saw and mushrooms children can climb or sit on. There will also be a pirate ship climbing frame with telescopes so the children can pretend they’re sailing down Leap Valley!

“The play area was put in about 23 years ago when the houses on the estate were built. The swing was taken away a while ago because it wasn’t possible to repair it. It’s all done in wood and has a limited life span. The surface underneath is not very good either. 

“There are a lot of young children around here. There are several nearby pre-schools and children from the nursery at Baugh Gardens come here so the new equipment has been designed for pre-school children. Those are the children who can’t walk very far whereas older children can go down to Bromley Heath playing field where there are good play facilities.”

Additional costs for fencing and maintenance are expected to be met by South Gloucestershire Council.

A consultation is also currently underway for plans to install new equipment at King George V play area, situated in the playing fields between Westerleigh Road and Farm Road/Sutherland Avenue.

The parish council has earmarked £25,000 for the play area and another £10,000 looks likely to be donated by South Gloucestershire Council through the New Homes Bonus Fund.

Equipment at King George V play area will be aimed at older children up to the age of eight and will complement existing gym-style equipment, including a zip wire, table tennis table and a basket swing, which are popular with children and adults alike.

It is likely to feature adventure-style play equipment such as climbing ropes.

There will also be equipment which will be accessible to children with disabilities and one possibility is a roundabout which has space for a wheelchair.

Work is expected to start in September and will take several weeks.

The parish council decided to spend the money improving local play areas following the community plan consultation in 2011 where a questionnaire was sent out to every household in Downend and Bromley Heath.

Residents felt there was a need for better play equipment, especially adventure-type installations.

The plans have been drawn up in consultation with the Friends of King George V Park and it is hoped the group will be able to apply for extra funding for further equipment.

Cllr Lewis said: “The play area at King George V is not at all attractive. Not many people go there just because it’s not got very interesting and adventurous play opportunities. So people in Downend put their children in their cars and go off to Fishponds or Emersons Green where the play equipment is better.

“The parish council has felt for a long time that there are not enough good quality play facilities in our local parks and that’s been something we’ve been working towards for several years.”

People in Downend are already seeing the benefits of investment in play facilities in the area. Two years ago a government grant enabled a complete make-over of Lincombe Barn play area. During the same year, the gym-style equipment was installed in King George V Park.

Residents can now view the draft plans for both play areas on the parish council’s website, http://www.downendbromleyheath.org/council-activities.html 

They are also invited to a meeting on Thursday June 6 at Downend Baptist Church, Salisbury Road at 7pm where they can come along and have their say.