Another meeting to work on renewal of parish play areas

Today I attended a meeting with Robbie Caddock and Phillip Snell at the MK Council Offices in Bleak Hall to discuss the plans for the parish play areas. Cllrs Joyce and Peter Ballantyne were also in attendance.

Philip is a project manager for MK Council and has worked on a number of play area projects including in particular the very successful renewal of the play areas in Kensington Drive, Great Holm.

We discussed the strategy for Loughton Parish play areas that has emerged from discussions with Robbie Caddock. This involves taking out 2 of the smaller play areas with little play value to reduce the numbers to 4. Then of those 4 it seems the best way forward is to aim to renew the Loughton Sports ground play area first. Philip and Robbie have agreed to visit the site and come up with a proposal and we will meet again next Tuesday to discuss it further and see what ideas they have

We also discussed the issue with the Great Holm play areas. There are some snagging issues on the two new play areas which Robbie will look at. He will also look at the play area in Petworth and see what can be done to renovate and improve this area.

Consultation with local residents around the Loughton sports ground will be important. The current play facilities are mainly aimed at very young children and perhaps they could also cater for older children and not just toddlers.

Philip is going to assist with a WREN grant application (this is a fund raised from landfill tax). We might have a budget of £70k available from that with a parish contribution of 11% plus possibly some more contribution from the Parish Partnership fund.

Overall, this seems to be another step forward on our goal of renewal of the parish play areas.

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Meeting with Milton Keynes Council re the Parish Play areas

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!

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