Palmer Park Reading play area is set to reopen at the weekend after a £132,000 refurbishment.
The adjoining East Reading Adventure Playground has also had £14,000 spent on improvements, which means a total of £146,000 has been invested in upgrading the two playgrounds.
The Reading improvements have been partly funded by Marks & Spencer, which has donated profits generated by its 5p food carrier bag charge that aims to encourage M&S customers to reduce their plastic bag usage. These funds were secured with the help of environmental charity Groundwork Thames Valley.
A grand opening will take place at 10.30am on Saturday, March 27, to celebrate the end of a major Reading improvement programme, which began in November.
Children of all ages can sample what the new facilities have to offer after the official opening, and the Council’s Play Rangers will also organise an Easter egg hunt and other activities.
The new Reading equipment at Palmer Park includes giant boulders for scrambling, buddy swings, a rope-end swinger, a ground-level trampoline and open-air table tennis tables. There are various pieces of acoustic play equipment, including a "sea roarer", which mimics the sound of the sea when children walk on it.
A natural play area has also been created and has been seeded with wild flowers. In December, local residents helped to plant 300 beech trees to form a hedge around this area.
John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Reading Children’s Services, said: "Play is an absolutely vital part of children’s development and we believe it’s massively important to give them every encouragement to enjoy playing outdoors on up-to-date play equipment. I’m delighted to see this project completed and I’m sure generations of East Reading children will benefit enormously from it."
Under Reading Borough Council’s Playbuilder project plan, 20-25 play areas in Reading will benefit from new and improved play and recreation equipment over three years from 2008/09 to 2010/11.
Each play area offers a wide variety of activities to create exciting areas for children, young people and their families.
The emphasis is on encouraging natural play amongst 8 to 13-year-olds.
Completed – or almost completed – parks include Palmer Park, Robert Hewitt Recreation Ground, in Tilehurst, and play areas in Beresford Road and Longbarn Lane. Other parks and play areas earmarked for improvements include Mapledurham, Emmer Green, Meadway and Christchurch Meadows.
Playbuilder in Reading is overseen and developed by the Council’s Children’s Services Team and the Parks and Open Spaces Team.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has provided almost £1million of funding spread over three years for Playbuilder in Reading.
Reading Borough Council