The children’s play area in Priory Park, Reigate, is to be refurbished early next summer, with much of the equipment replaced.
The project is part of an ongoing borough-wide programme, which this year has also seen play areas in Kingswood and Chipstead upgraded.
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council has said that the centrepiece of the Priory Park playground, the “Grey Lady” ship, will “remain in spirit”, being replaced with “something more modern, while in keeping with the playground’s nautical theme”.
Other items, such as the climbing tower and zip wire, will also be refurbished.
The splash play equipment won’t be included in the renovation, as that was only installed last year. The layout and planting of the site will remain the same.
The council is currently analysing responses to a recent survey which asked people what new equipment they’d like to see.
Launching the survey in October, Cllr Alex Horwood, executive member for neighbourhood services, said:
“Children have been having fun climbing, swinging, sliding, hiding and scrambling around Priory’ Park’s playground for 11 years now.
All that fun has taken its toll on the equipment and so we need to replace it.
Priory Park and its playground is much loved and well-used and we want to make sure it stays that way.
The refurbishment is an opportunity for us to refresh and update the play experience for children, as new, more exciting equipment is now available.
It is also important that the new equipment is easy to maintain and will last.”
The project came up at a council meeting last week, where Cllr Horwood said a tender for the new equipment would be issued by this Friday, 9 November.
After bid evaluation and selection of a contractor, the work is expected to take place just before the start of the school summer holidays, from 13 May to 11 July 2019.
In recent months, park users have found some of the equipment out of use and taped off. Asked in the meeting about repairs, Cllr Horwood said that only the zip wire was still broken and that this was expected to be fixed shortly.
Cllr Horwood also gave other details of the council’s refurbishment programme:
- The council has approximately 40 play areas, plus other facilities such as skate ramps and multi-use games areas
- Over the last ten years around 25 play areas have been refurbished, and more than 20 will be done 2020-2030
- The cost of each refurbishment is “about £80,000 per site”
- Sites are prioritised based on age, condition, use and size
Cllr Horwood didn’t set out a figure for the Priory Park project, but said that it would use up all of the programme’s budget for that year.
Work did take place in the playground in 2017, when the council removed the sand, put in a new playground surface and upgraded water splash play facilities. The water equipment had been suffering from wear and tear, and the sand was affecting play equipment as well as blocking drains. The council said that the work cost £160,000.
The playground – which draws in parents and children from both Reigate and further afield – was opened in its current form in 2007 as part a wider park restoration project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, commercial sponsorship and the council.
The nautical theme of the playground is a tie-in with the history of Reigate Priory, whose former residents include Lord Charles Howard of Effingham (Lord High Admiral at the time of the Spanish Armada) and Earl David Beatty (Admiral of the Fleet during the First World War).
The ‘Grey Lady’ ship is named after the ghost that is rumoured to walk Reigate Priory’s corridors, and was chosen following a naming competition for local school children when the playground opened.
Watch the council discussion (video will start at correct point)