Plan to spend £785k on town’s play areas to be discussed at meeting

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The future of the town’s play areas will be determined at a town hall meeting next week.

Crawley Borough Council is expected to approve plans to invest £785,000 in play facilities across the town at a meeting next Wednesday (December 18).

The changes include improvements to 12 sites between 2013 and 2017 with 15 further projects outlined for 2017-2019, should the money be made available.

At a meeting of the Cabinet last Wednesday (December 4), members acknowledged that an initial consultation into the town’s play areas, which was held in 2012, had been flawed.

Council leader Cllr Howard Bloom praised the latest consultation as “a much more user friendly approach”.

Cllr Duncan Crow, Cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “We knew which play areas were very popular and very well used and we knew there were some which were borderline.

“I think it was right to take our time to do this and reach the right outcome. It was recognised the original consensus was flawed.”

Regarding the cost of the scheme, the council has budget provision for £692,300.

The remaining £92,700 will come from Section 106 receipts – money given to the local community by developers.

The council is keen to improve the use of the area’s four adventure playgrounds, and one of the projects earmarked for 2014/15 will see £120,000 pumped into the Creasys Drive venue.

Members were told the idea was to ‘open up’ the adventure playgrounds’ hours to allow for their use when no staff were around to supervise the children.

The proposals also include the closure of four play areas in Bewbush with the possibility of two more to follow.

A council spokesman said the plan in 2012 had originally been to close 11 sites, including two in Broadfield and seven in Ifield.

But consultation with residents, combined with surveys of how many children used the play areas, led to a change of heart.

The spokesman added: “If the proposals are given the go ahead, the four removed play areas – which will be within 200m of another playground which will be improved – will be grassed.”

The issue of the play areas will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on December 18. The meeting starts at 7.30pm. All are welcome.