Today we’re happy to announce our plans for the recently damaged Heaton Park play area, and share some exciting visuals of the equipment we’ll be installing in the next couple of months.
What happened to the old equipment?
On the evening of 13 September 2020 we were absolutely devastated by the arson attack on the playground in Heaton Park. Very sadly, the main piece of equipment, which had been created as a bespoke piece of equipment in consultation with the community just a couple of years ago, was damaged beyond repair and needed to be removed.
Thank you to our supporters
After an initial assessment and scope of works we found that the cost of removing the damaged apparatus and installing new pieces was going to be over £25k.
The community around Heaton Park have always been fantastic supporters, and had played a key role in the fundraising and design for the playpark equipment which has been damaged by the fire. They quickly pulled together in the most amazing show of solidarity, and established a Facebook Group and a Go Fund Me page to contribute towards the works required for the park.
Overall, the group raised over £21k towards the cost of the playground through a wide variety of exciting activities and we want to say a massive thank you to all members of this group for their fantastic efforts.
The groups organisers said: “As a group we are absolutely overwhelmed at the level of community spirit shown in raising funds to repair the park. From individual donations to large donations from businesses and items and bids for the auctions we have run the fundraising effort has really shown what we are capable of as a community and we would like to thank everyone who has helped. We can’t wait to see the new park equipment installed and I think, particularly after a year when children’s play has been so restricted that this will mean a great deal to families in the local area.”
We have also been very grateful to have received generous donations from Primula, LGA Foundation, Muckle, P&G, Friends Heaton & Armstrong Parks, Friends of Paddy Freemans, Jon Foley & Son Ltd, and the local Ward Councillors. Thank you all for your contributions and helping us reach out £25k goal.
Consulting with the public
As an organisation it is one of our priorities to collaborate with everyone in Newcastle to co-create greenspaces that are open and accessible to all, and so we were keen to speak to people in the local community, the Friends of Heaton and Armstrong Parks and local councillors about how we should replace the damaged equipment. Given the restrictions in place due to Covid-19 we created an online survey.
We received hundreds of responses to the survey, and the consensus from the community was that they wanted to see the equipment replaced almost like for like, but with some key changes made for accessibility and added play value. We used this guidance to work closely our contractors Pennine Playgrounds to develop exciting plans for the new equipment.
What will the new park look like?
The plans for the new park will see the area resurfaced with sand which is not only more sustainable as a material but also allows us to bring in some great new elements which will increase the play value of the park for children of all ages.
The main piece of equipment will be very similar to the large piece that was damaged with a few changes, including more entry points and the addition of some more advanced obstacles to provide more play value for older children.
Our interactive digger features have been a big hit in Exhibition Park and are a great way to get some additional play value out of the new sand surfacing of the play area.
Also thanks to the new sand play surface, we’ve been able to introduce a new interactive sand desk which includes a number of different elements for sensory play. This will give both young toddlers and those with additional needs more to explore.
The new plans for the play park also include a wider low-set slide for smaller children, new balance beams and a chain crosswalk.
Updating our parks
This work will be carried out by Pennine Playgrounds as part of a wider scheme of works in all of our parks to repair and maintain other playgrounds this spring. You can find out more about the programme here.