A £1.4m investment in Watford’s adventure playgrounds will be taken forward after a decision by Watford Borough Council’s Cabinet to transform play provision for five to 15-year-olds in the borough.
This investment marks a new chapter for the playgrounds, which by summer 2017 will offer a range of state-of-the-art play equipment. The other big change to Harwoods and Harebreaks Adventure Playgrounds is that they will be open to young people and their families all day, every day. They are currently open for limited hours, as staff supervisors are needed for children and young people to be able to use the play equipment.
The investment – coming from the council’s capital or investment budget – will mean £250,000 a year is saved from its revenue budget. This is critical at a time when the council is facing significant pressure on its finances, following the government’s £3 million cut to its revenue budget.
The plan to redevelop the playgrounds – originally considered in July – was reconsidered this week so that Cabinet could take into account additional information. It also meant Cabinet was able to approve additional capital spending at Harebreaks in response to feedback from the community that the equipment being installed at the site needed to be more exciting.
Councillors heard that the new playgrounds would broaden the appeal of Watford’s adventurous play. Highlights of the plans for the two sites include a double zip wire, iconic tower with aerial tunnels, slide, bridge and climbing wall at Harwoods and adventure trail and feature climbing tower at Harebreaks.
In addition Cabinet approved the rollout of free school holiday play activities, which will be run at Easter and summer, at locations across Watford. Young people have already shared their views about the types of activities they would like to take part in.
Councillor Karen Collett, Portfolio Holder for Community, said: “We understand that these sites have been very important to those who have used them over the years and we also know that being able to enjoy good quality play facilities and activities is a fundamental part of growing up. This is why it was important for us to look at the new information that had been presented and to give consideration to the issues it raised. The decision to go ahead with the transformation of play services and the £1.4million investment in Harwoods and Harebreaks shows our commitment to securing both sites for our young people and also ensures we are putting adventurous, challenging and fun play on the map, here in Watford. I am confident that both sites will be well-used and well-loved for many years to come.”