Sunday, 21 April 2019

Playground revamp due to finish in time for summer holidays

Playground revamp due to finish in time for summer holidays

Freemans Meadow

THE refurbishment of a Henley playground should be completed in time for the summer school holidays.

The town council has shortlisted three specialist companies to resurface and re-equip the facility at Freemans Meadow, off Fair Mile, at a cost of £60,000.

The firms are Hags, from Egham in Surrey, Sutcliffe Play, from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, and Wicksteed, from Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Members of the town council’s open and green spaces sub-committee will meet representatives from each company to discuss the finer points of what’s required.

The firms will then be invited to present their playground designs.

Councillor Kellie Hinton, who chairs the sub-committee, said: “We went out to tender and eight companies came back. It was very evident that some people had taken into account the type of facility and its location and some hadn’t.

“We have selected three companies and will have a short meeting with them about the priorities and necessities before they present to us.

“We wanted to give them more of a steer because we want the playground to be open by the summer school holidays.”

She said the firms’ initial designs were quite different from each other.

The refurbishment will include a new wetpour surface, which will replace the wood chips and will cost about £50,000.

The rest of the money will be spent on new swings and a slide as well as fencing and seating. The work is expected to take three months once the order has been placed.

Meanwhile, a new noticeboard could be installed in or near the playground.

Helen Gaynor, a member of the committee and Friends of Freemans Meadow group, said: “Someone came up with the idea of a noticeboard so everybody can engage with it and use it, not just for the necessary notices, but also for points of interest, the educational and conservation aspects and also events that go on there.”

She said that official signs could be placed on the board rather than having “lots of little signs dotted about the place”.

Mrs Gaynor said: “We all understand that signage is probably necessary for legal aspects but people feel they would like to keep it to a minimum.”

Cllr Hinton welcomed the suggestion, saying: “I like the idea of someone walking past and going ‘oh’ — it helps engage people.”

Mrs Gaynor added: “There is a lot of engagement now. I can knock out an email to 50 or 60 people and feel I have done a good job.

“But I was talking to a lady with a dog on the meadow the other day who doesn’t do email but she may just have stood and read a noticeboard.”

The sub-committee agreed to investigate the idea, which could be included in the council’s review of all noticeboards in the town.

• The football goals at Freemans have been removed but will be put back once the footprint of the new playground has been decided. In the meantime, seven-a-side football goals have been installed at Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road. Nets have not been put up but are available on request to the council.

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