A MAKEOVER of the toddler playground in Henley has moved a step closer.
The town council’s recreation and amenities committee unanimously agreed that the £126,000 refurbishment plan drawn up by Play and Leisure, of Buckley, Cheshire, should be recommended to the full council meeting set for April 1.
The proposed new playground would be themed around the River Thames and have more than a dozen piece of equipment designed for children aged up to nine.
These include swings, slides, roundabouts, an obstacle course, a see-saw, a wobbly surfboard on springs and a climbing frame in the shape of a pirate ship.
The playground would have a soft floor which will be painted to look as though a river runs through it.
If the proposal is approved at the meeting work will start in May and be completed by the end of June. The council began consultation in January after parents told them the playground needed modernising.
Two of the largest pieces of equipment are currently closed for safety reasons.
The council spoke to families at the site and in Market Place and also conducted a survey through the town’s primary schools.
The project went out to tender in February and six companies bid before the council narrowed the choice down to two.
The other finalist was Kompan, a Danish company which makes ’smart’ playgrounds that interact with mobile phones.
Kompan’s £130,000 proposal was themed around Hans Christian Andersen. The council’s toddler playground advisory group said this had a higher ’wow factor’ but offered poor value for money as its replacement parts are not made in the UK.
Councilor Kellie Hinton, a member of the recreation and amenities committee, said: “I am something of an expert on playgrounds as I spend a lot of time there with my daughter.
This refurbishment is needed as there are only three items left which can be used. People talk to me about it all the time.
I looked at Play and Leisure’s proposal with both a mum’s eye and a councillor’s eye and it very clearly stood out. It requires very little maintenance and offers a wider range of equipment.”
Cllr David Silvester said: “It seems to me like a no-brainer. It is the cheaper of the proposals but it is also the highest quality, so it is not so much ‘cheap’ as it is competitively priced.”<
The council had budgeted up to £135,000 for the project.
The news was welcomed by Henley parents.
Iain Ryan, of Reading Road, who regularly visits the playground with his daughter Lucy, nine, said: “A lot of parents are going to be relieved. It will be good to see everything in working order.
It’s always a shame to see things broken and you wonder what’s going on when you see it month after month and nothing being done about it.
Mill Meadows is an important feature of Henley and this is definitely a positive thing.”