On Friday 16th March, 5 members of the Parish Council met at Church Farm to discuss the parish play areas with Robbie Caddock, the officer of Milton Keynes Council responsible.
He took over the job less than a year ago. He explained Milton Keynes has about 500 play areas which is (apparrently) very many per head of population compared to other areas. The Council’s budget is in the region of £200k per annum, although this has also has to resource the Council’s “fix it” team. So there is only about £250 available for each play area per year for maintenance and renewal. Loughton Parish has 9 areas and he thought that in Loughton the play areas had not had much attention
We had a long discussion about a strategy. Robbie’s steer is that the play area in Linceslade Grove (near the junction with Bignell Croft) is poor. It consists solely of 3 identical springers in a line. It does not appear to be very well used and the attraction to children of playing on the same type of springer 3 times is low. He favours removal of the play area altogether. It would be welcome to MK Council to have one less area to be responsible for.
Robbie also identified another area – on the south side of the Loughton sports ground. It is not far from a larger area on the other side of the sports ground. Currently all the play equipment has been removed from the area on the grounds it is beyond the end of its life. Again, Robbie advised the area is removed.
This would leave 4 areas in Loughton; (1) the sports ground (2) redland drive (3) rushleys close and (4) the junction of Linceslade Grove and Redland Drive
Robbie suggested we seek a major renovation of (1) and (2) to upgrade them with more and better, more interesting equipment – similar to as was done in Great Holm at Kensington Drive. We could then concentrate on improving the maintenance and repairing defects on (3) and (4).
In Great Holm there are only 3 play areas and 2 of them are pretty new. The other, at Petworth, also need maintenance and replacing some missing equipment.
We will need to consult with residents on this strategy. It may be controversial to remove 2 play areas. It may also be controversial to upgrade and extend the other play areas. However this would seem to me to be the best play and we will need to apply for WREN grants as well as play area renewal grants from MK Council.
I’d welcome any comments on this subject!