Agenda item


To receive a presentation from Mr. Peter Amies, Head of Community and Environmental Services, on the levels of use, condition and cost of replacement for the smaller playgrounds in the Borough and to consider options.


The Panel welcomed Mr. Peter Amies, Head of Community and Environmental Services and Mr. Andy Ford, Parks Manager, who attended the meeting to give an update on the current position with the playgrounds in the Borough.


The Panel was advised on coverage, usage and the overall condition of the 44 playground sites, the cost of maintaining and renewing equipment and options for future provision. It was noted that of the 44 sites, five were privately owned and the remaining 39 were maintained by the Council. Since 2005, fifteen sites had been refurbished with Moor Road and Cove Green scheduled for 2018.


Surveys of usage had been carried out on all the playgrounds during 2013 and 2017. Each survey had been carried out at varying times of the day over a 15-18 day period during the summer. The results from each survey had shown a similar pattern, with the two destination playgrounds in Aldershot Park and King George V Playing Fields being the most highly used sites. The small playgrounds, of which there were 19, had much lower usage and in some cases, no one was observed on some of these sites during the survey period.


The Panel noted that capital funding was in place to refurbish Moor Road and Cove Green during 2018, but further funding still needed to be secured for a number of medium sized sites across the Borough. It was advised that options needed to be considered for the 19 small equipped and very small sites, most of which were approaching end of life. To refurbish the small sites with basic equipment, including a swing, slide, rocker, bin and bench would cost in the region of £60,000 and the very small sites around £20,000.   


In summary, the Panel noted that the larger/destination and medium sites, such as King George V and Aldershot Park, had been the most popular playgrounds, being more attractive for families of all ages. A large number of the small and very small sites were reaching end of life and the cost to replace them would be in the region of £800,000 with annual maintenance costs of around £20,000, for which funding was becoming more difficult to secure. The Council needed to consider a  more financially sustainable approach  to rationalising provision and maintenance of its playgrounds and sought the views of the Panel on the way forward.


The Panel discussed the presentation and considered the costs of replacing equipment at the end of its life or removing it and providing green space for play. In response to a query on external funding, it was advised that the system had changed for applying for Section 106 (S106) funding. Where as before funding had been easier to obtain, now Councils could only be granted five amounts of S106 funding for one project. There were also other restrictions that had been applied, including a time limit of five years for accessing funding from a development and limitations on the distance from the development where the monies could be used.


The Chairman thanked Mr. Amies and Mr. Ford for their presentation.


Following further discussion the Panel AGREED to recommend that:


Action to be taken


By Whom


Advanced notice should be given of any proposed removal of play equipment from the small or very small sites that were approaching end of life.


Head of Community and Environmental Services, Mr Peter Amies.


local residents and Ward Councillor should be given the opportunity to give their feedback on the proposals and usage of the sites.


Head of Community and Environmental Services, Mr Peter Amies.


Assurance be given to residents that the areas would remain as greenspace for play should the equipment be removed.


Head of Community and Environmental Services, Mr Peter Amies.