The new play area which has been under construction for several weeks is now open. It is situated at the Queen’s Road side of the park close to where the walking route to the university intersects a path from the pavilion area. This play area is for children up to 12/13 years old. There is another play area near the pavilion for the youngest children.
This new play area is to replace the existing one on the edge of the park near to the new health centre. The equipment on the old play area site is due to be removed, but we are currently looking into new uses for that fenced and enclosed area.
The early signs are that the new play area is attracting a lot of use and it appears busy most days. It is much more visible than the old site was, and the new position makes it more accessible from the main Queen’s Road entrance, and from elsewhere on the park. Although there is less equipment than on the old site, it is new, brightly coloured, and appears attractive to children, who can be seen enjoying themselves.
It’s not only parents and children who have been attracted to the new play area. It has also proved popular at times to older young people, many from the nearby sixth form college, which has made it difficult for parents with their young children. We have talked to the young people to see what they want. They say somewhere to go where there are some seats, maybe some tables, and some bits of equipment suitable for their age group. The Friend’s Group is looking in this because there is nothing for their age group on this side of the park.
Many early responses to the new play area have been positive, but there have also been some more mixed reactions. Some have asked why it was moved at all, it was perfectly alright where it was. Others want to know why it has got less equipment on it than the old one, or why it hasn’t got a fence round it – the new play area is unfenced, in an open part of the park, and there is a cycle track a short distance away. Some parents have felt the open nature of the play area creates a safety risk from cyclists, dogs, or from children being able to wander away. The possibility of full or partial fencing of the new play area is being considered in order to meet these concerns.