New play area is a goer at St Albans park after charity lands £70K grant
PUBLISHED: 09:03 26 July 2020
A new play area for a St Albans park is set to become reality after a charity hit its £70,000 fundraising target.
Community group Clarence Play was set by by a core of passionate local residents to create a fun, innovative and inspirational new play area in Clarence Park to replace the existing 20-year-old facilities, which are now reaching the end of their natural life.
Although the project has financial commitment from St Albans district council (SADC), the charity wanted to secure an additional £70,000 to build a truly inspiring and inclusive playground, and set about bidding for the extra cash.
Veolia Environment Trust, which supports a wide range of community and environmental projects, subsequently awarded a grant of £67,500 to Clarence Play after the charity completed a thorough two-stage application process, with the remainder of the target raised by the local community.
The project involved detailed feedback from more than 600 local residents and park goers, who set out their needs, wants and ambitions for the new play area, ensuring it was a truly unified project.
Charity chairman Louise Mann said: “We did it! We’re so excited to announce that the project is now fully-funded. The team has worked incredibly hard over the past year and a half to really understand what it is that the community wanted and needed in a new playground. We wanted to ensure that the new playground really reflected the voices of the local children and that every child felt they had a space that they could have fun in, regardless of ability.”
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She added: “We are so grateful to the board of trustees at Veolia Environmental Trust for the grant, as well as every single person who donated, filled in a survey, showed their support and gave feedback on the initial designs. And the committee, who’ve worked really hard, have given a lot of time and passion to get us here.”
Clarence Play invited people to provide feedback on five proposed designs, with the results sent to SADC to be used in a final design document which will be put out to tender.
The overall theme of the play area will be nature, and suggested equipment includes a treehouse-style multi-play structure, a climbing structure for older children with slide and monkey bars, a designated toddler zone, sensory equipment and a wheelchair-friendly roundabout and trampoline. There will be plenty of natural shade provided from freshly-planted trees.
It is hoped the new play area will be completed around January-February next year, but exact timings have yet to be confirmed.
Eleanor Wood, six, is one of many children who are very excited about the new area: “I love going to the playground. The playground is lots of fun for me and all the other children in St Albans. I know that lots of people have worked very hard and I want to say a big thank you to all of them for making it better.”
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper said: “A big congratulations to all those involved in Clarence Play who have successfully met their fundraising target! Many generations of kids and big kids have enjoyed the playground over the years and these funds will deliver a rejuvenated play space so that the Clarence Park play area remains a firm favourite for local children for generations to come.”
Clarence Play and SADC are both committed to ensuring the new playground accords with the good practice guidelines published by Play England, including the requirement it should be fully accessible for children with additional needs, allowing youngsters with and without disabilities to play together.
To find out more about the next stages of development and further news about the launch, visit https://clarenceplay.org.uk/ or find them on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter.
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