Bamburgh Playpark refurbishment.
On 6th October this major project reached an important milestone. Planning permission was granted and so we can now move to active procurement followed by groundwork and installation, the timing of which is to some extent weather dependent. In arriving at this critical stage in the life of the project, it is a fine opportunity to look back its history that began in January 2021.
Recognition of the need for renewal
The current play area was installed in 2011 is on multiple levels, is not enclosed and there has been subsidence around several of the activities. Additionally wear and tear has meant that several of the activities are close to the end of their safe useful lives. The Parish council sought to improve safety by moving existing rocks away from the activities, creating a uniform level for the whole area, replacing the existing rubber matting with a more robust surface, and having the play area fenced. In addition, the existing uneven surface makes it unsuitable for less able children.
The chosen layout
The land is owned by Bamburgh Castle Estates and the existing play area sits on the spoil from the groundworks related to the construction of the adjacent tennis court and covers an area along the width of the tennis court. Bamburgh Castle Estates have kindly agreed to allow the use of some additional unused land such that the project forms an ‘L’ shape around the width of the tennis court and part of its length. After consulting several potential suppliers, a design by a family-owned York-based company, Playscheme was selected. The winning layout was chosen, in part, for its use of natural materials that fitted best in the iconic setting below the castle. Also, the bespoke nature of the play activities enabled construction specifically for the setting and space.
When planning the play area, a key consideration was to privilege accessibility. The former play area was on multiple levels and was unfenced with significant drops down to the level of the tennis court.
The new area will be fenced and gated with facilitated access for wheelchairs. In addition to the existing nested swing which is classed as accessible (with parental support), a swing with an accessible seat will be added together with a roundabout suitable for wheelchair users. The principal activity of the renovated play area is a pirate ship. The design has been modified to include ramp access to the ship via the gravel perimeter path.
Throughout the planning period there has been constant consultation with residents and other interested parties. Early in the process an open day was held in the pavilion when plans were exhibited and Playscheme management responded to questions posed by villagers. Suggestions have been considered and layout, materials and the colour scheme have been reviewed to take into consideration concerns expressed to the extent possible.
The drive for funding kicked off around Easter 2021 and financial support was received from villagers, other local interested parties, and charities with either a national remit or with some local connection. As funding came close to reaching the ambitious financial objective the request for planning permission was initiated in August 2022. Planning permission and funding were both concluded favourably in October.
A huge thank you to all those who have contributed in one way or another to the success of this project.
Dismantlement of the existing village play area followed by groundworks are planned to commence on Monday the 7th November. Installation of the new play area will hopefully be complete prior to the Christmas holidays. Thank you for your understanding and that of your children/grandchildren during the construction period when the area will be cordoned-off.