Revamped Hastings playground unveiled

Cllr Jeremy Birch and children cutting ribbon at the opening
Cllr Jeremy Birch and children cutting ribbon at the opening

LAST Saturday (12 January 2013), Local MP Amber Rudd, Hastings Council Leader Jeremy Birch, and local children and young people braved the cold and the rain to celebrate the unveiling of the brand-new Barley Play Space on Boyne Road, Clive Vale, Hastings.

The opening ceremony took place at 1.00pm and from then on, the new equipment was put through its paces. Children joined in with free play-activities provided by the Play Hastings Team and Eat @ Café provided warming and much welcome refreshments.

Clive Vale Residents Association, working with Groundwork, led the project to transform the housing association owned playground on Boyne Road. It has upgraded the rundown playground, which was not suitable for use by different age groups and was inadequate for the size of population it served. Some of the equipment has been refurbished and repaired, and new equipment has been installed, including a basket swing, an embankment slide and a climbing ramp.

The play space has been opened up so that children can now access the wooded hillside and natural open-space next to it. Hastings Borough Council also worked with local children to design a nature trail/bug hunt.

The Hastings Recycled Wood Project have used recycled materials to create ‘natural play’ features including large wooden birds perched on the wooden posts of the old swing unit as part of the nature trail. They have also installed bespoke seating, including ‘oak leaf’ climbing stalls under the site’s old oak tree, as well as bird boxes and feeders.

Funding for the £41,000 project has come from the residents association, Hastings Borough Council (£5,000), Amicus Horizon (£5,000), environmental regeneration charity Groundwork through a ‘Transform Your Patch’ Britvic grant (£5,500) and The Veolia Environmental Trust who awarded a grant of £25,000 through the Landfill Communities Fund.

When it started planning the work, Hastings Borough Council and its partners, including Groundwork, consulted local parents and carers. Many mentioned that the playground is the only play space in the area, that it was highly valued by the community, and that they would support its improvement.

Ms Rudd says, “We are all extremely grateful for The Veolia Environmental Trust’s generous support for this play area. I would also like to thank the local Residents Association who have campaigned so effectively to raise the money from the Trust and other sources. This is a good example of co-operation amongst groups and funding organisations in improving local facilities for the benefit of the whole community.”

The Chair of the Residents Association, Mr Arthur Burgess, says, “Thank you to Clive Vale residents association members and all of the funders and partners that have worked together to ensure this valued community asset is improved for local children’s play. Special thanks needs to go to Laura Beerling, Play Development Officer, Hasting Borough Council, for all her hard work.”

The Veolia Environmental Trust’s Executive Director, McNabb Laurie, adds, “It’s great that this revamped play area is now open. Play areas provide a valuable place where children can play, interact, build friendships and exercise and it is one of our priorities to support projects to improve them.”

Cllr Emily Westley, Hastings Lead Member for Environment and Leisure comments, “This is an important play area for local residents and we are extremely pleased to support it and see new life being breathed back into it.”

Robin Jones, Groundwork Business Development Manager, comments, “Children having access to imaginative places to play close to where they live is crucial to having a great start in life, and helps to create pride in the local community. There’s plenty of scope for more projects of this kind in Hastings, and organisations being prepared to pool their resources is key to making this happen.”