Five more West Suffolk play areas to be upgraded

The West Stow adventure play area. Photo: West Suffolk Council.

Five more play areas in West Suffolk are to receive makeovers this year in a programme worth £220,000.

The  facilities are in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Mildenhall and Newmarket and all are owned by West Suffolk Council,

The council, which has made healthy families and communities a priority, has a rolling plan to ensure its children’s play areas are safe and fun to use. This has seen play spaces at Warren Close, Brandon; New Cheveley Road, Newmarket; St John’s Close, Mildenhall; and Hardwick Heath, Bury St Edmunds, recently upgraded.

The five new sites are:

  • St James Park, Moreton Hall, will see the installation of a more diverse range of equipment within a slightly larger more accessible space.
  • Gainsborough Recreation Ground, Bury St Edmunds, will see the cable way being replaced and a senior multi-play unit being installed.
  • Peterhouse Close, in Mildenhall, will be fully refurbished.
  • Henry Close, in Haverhill, will provide a more naturally landscaped area containing a number of new items of equipment with space for younger children to run around.
  • Granby Street, in Newmarket, also a natural space with landscape features for younger children, will also have a refresh.The projects are currently out to tender for play area specialists to put forward their proposed designs and prices. The tenders are scheduled to be received in Mid-March.

    The submitted proposals will be consulted on with pupils from schools close to the play areas, along with other interested parties, including residents of Henry Close, Haverhill, who have expressed a desire to be involved in the future of that site.

    The scores and the council’s own evaluation will be used to select the winning designs, with contracts being awarded after Easter. The builds on the sites will vary, but the aim is to start with the minimum delay so that the play sites are ready for use during the school summer holiday period.

    Another play area to see an upgrade this year is in the Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds. A routine inspection found the timbers of a multi-play area had become unsafe and that item of equipment has been fenced off. The contract has been awarded subject to consent from Historic England. As soon as the consent is received it is hoped that the work can commence.

    Jo Rayner, deputy leader and cabinet member for Leisure, Heritage and Community Hubs, said: “Play areas support our children’s health and wellbeing, so making them safe, appealing places to exercise and play is important. The council has made healthy families and communities a priority and I know play areas are highly valued as safe spaces for children to just let go.

    “Occasionally, mis-use or wear and tear may mean a well-loved piece of equipment cannot be used and I completely appreciate the upset this causes. We own and maintain over 100 play areas across West Suffolk and the programme of upgrades and regular safety inspections make sure that equipment is in good working order to be enjoyed by families.”

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