Children are able to play again in Reigate’s Priory Park playground, after a six-week closure to replace equipment that’s been there since the play area opened in 2007.
Refurbishment work two years ago installed new splash play equipment and removed the sand: this year’s work was about older kit which the council says was deteriorating and proving increasingly costly to maintain.
In the new look playground, which reopened on Friday afternoon (19 July), the nautical theme remains, with a redesigned Grey Lady ship. Its two decks include a tube slide, balance bars, ladders, a climbing net, hammocks and sensory play panels.
A four-tower climbing frame, ‘Priory Castle’, has two types of slide, a bridge, climbing net and a spiral ‘curly climber’ designed for children aged 4 to 12.
‘Priory Gatehouse’ is a smaller two-tiered climbing frame aimed at 2 to 6 year olds, and includes a slide, climbing net, fireman’s pole and sensory play panels.
At the 25m zip wire, it’s possible that kids will now have less of a wait, as a second wire has been added.
Elsewhere in the playground there are nine swings, two types of climbing net, a multi-seesaw with back supports, a wheelchair-accessible roundabout, and springers and spinners.
The summer splash play installed two years ago remains, and the climbing wall is also still there.
Although the layout and planting remain the same, the council says the area is now more open, which should make it easier for parents and carers to keep an eye on children of different ages in different place, something users are said to have wanted.
Cllr Natalie Bramhall, executive member for neighbourhood services, said:
“With visitors from all over the borough and much further afield, 12 years of fun had taken its toll on the playground equipment which needed to be replaced if the playground was to remain safe and useable.
We hope children and their parents and carers will love the new equipment and the countless opportunities it offers for imaginative play for years to come.
We took a number of steps to make sure design is inclusive for the wide range of children using the park.
The new equipment has been built to last and will also be easier and more cost effective to maintain.”
The timing of the work proved controversial when it was announced, and children were unable to use the playground during what turned out to be a warm June. In response to comments, the council said that finer weather helps this sort of work, and that the consultation process in October last year and then a procurement exercise had taken time.
Parents and the council will likely be pleased that the work completed on schedule, ahead of the school summer holidays.
The playground has a nautical theme to reflect former naval occupants of Reigate Priory, with the playground’s Grey Lady ship named after a ghost rumoured to haunt the building.
The Priory Park playground refurbishment is part of a rolling programme of investment by the council in its parks and greenspaces around the borough.
Chipstead and Kingswood were upgraded last year, with plans being developed for Merstham Recreation Ground in future.
All photos via Reigate & Banstead Borough Council