Penwortham playground to get more new equipment after parents push for a bigger revamp

Parental pressure and poor surface condition have persuaded South Ribble Borough Council to almost double the amount it previously intended to spend on the refurbishment of a playground in Penwortham.

By Paul Faulkner
Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:59 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 1:15 pm

The authority had originally earmarked £75,000 to upgrade some of the equipment at the facility on Birch Avenue. However, cabinet members have now agreed to splash £145,000 on the facelift following the results of a public consultation.

It will be the tenth play area in the borough to receive an overhaul as part of a rolling programme of works which began almost three years ago. All of the sites where new kit has so far been installed had last been refurbished in the late 1990s - with the budgets for each usually ranging from between £175,000 to £225,000.

The Birch Avenue playground received a more recent revamp in 2005 - leading the council initially to conclude that not as much investment would be needed at the location. The authority originally proposed replacing just some of the equipment, while leaving other existing apparatus in place.

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Birch Avenue playground in Penwortham was last refurbished in 2005

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However, Cllr Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for finance, property and assets, told a meeting of his cabinet colleagues that responses to the consultation had revealed that some of the kit proposed to remain was “not as popular with children and parents as we thought”.

The authority will now spend a further £20,000 on additional new equipment, as well as extra seating and picnic tables, which were also requested by locals. A further £10,000 will be spent on safety surfaces to accommodate the new play items which will now be bought.

Preparatory work has also uncovered a major problem with the overall surface of the site, which has been found to be deteriorating more rapidly than it has in other playgrounds - and which would require a “significant amount of patching” in the next five years. Instead, the authority has opted to ringfence £40,000 to resurface the whole area in tandem with the installation of the new equipment, which is expected to have a lifespan of around 20 years.

Deputy council leader Mick Titherington said that from a “practical…and financially sound point of view”, it made more sense to do the whole job in one go.

Labour council leader Paul Foster added that the authority had received “a huge amount of positive feedback from the local community on the work that has been undertaken” at other sites.

He added: “[It] is really pleasing…as you drive around the borough [to see] all the playgrounds hugely in use that we have refurbished.”

The budget increase will require final approval at a meeting of the full council, but the Conservative opposition indicated its support for the proposal, with group leader Karen Walton calling for the Birch Avenue consultation to be taken as a good indication of what residents “would…and wouldn't like to see” when future playground refurbishments are being planned.

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