During the consultation, which took place between 30 August and 11 October, 190 people gave their views on how the council should improve the following five play areas:
- Clevedon – Cherry Avenue and Esmond Grove
- Nailsea – Scotch Horn/Millennium Park and Pound Lane
- Weston-super-Mare – Plumley Park South.
Residents were given the opportunity to comment on a range of play equipment to appeal to all age ranges and abilities, including those children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
At all locations, respondents said they wanted to see the addition of a multi climb unit, followed by a slide. The average age of children using the play areas was reported to be pre-school (aged two to four), closely followed by school age (aged five to 14). The consultation results can be downloaded from our website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/play22.
The council used the information gathered to shape plans to improve the play areas. Final plans were used within a procurement process, leading to work being awarded to four play area providers. Better value for money was achieved than predicted, enabling work to take place this financial year to improve the following two additional play areas:
- Clevedon – Home Grounds
- Portishead – Merlin Park.
Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council's executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said: “Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to our consultation. You gave us valuable feedback that helped us to better understand priorities for local families. As a result, our plans focus on benefiting most local children and young people.
“This is the first of a five-year capital investment programme created to deliver much-needed improvement to our play areas. Ongoing budget cuts over the last few years has meant that we’ve seen little significant investment in our play areas, so we’re playing catch-up. Having assessed all our play areas, we’re targeting investment in priority order, dealing with the play areas most in need first.
“I’m particularly pleased to see cost savings being achieved through the procurement procedure. This will see two additional play areas being improved this year for the benefit of more children and young people in those areas. This is down to the hard work of officers involved and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank them for this excellent result.”
This capital investment of £300,000 is in addition to the £250,000 Improving Play Spaces Fund, which launched in April, to provide capital matched funding for projects at town and parish council managed play areas across the area. As the funding has been allocated this financial year (2022-23), all projects will be delivered by the end of March 2023.