Work is soon to commence on the development of a new multi-use play area on Ashington’s Peoples Park, to be completed in time for the busy summer months.

Following the demolition of the former Ashington Leisure Centre and related premises and further to the granting of planning permission for new housing on the site, Ashington Town Council accepted an invitation from Northumberland County Council to be the lead organisation in the development of a major new replacement play facility.

The development will take place on a specified area of Peoples Park, formally identified and agreed as part of the planning process, to be situated close to the location of the former play area.    

The Town Council has now developed plans for an inclusive children’s play facility that will include a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) as well as an outside gym on the identified site.

The Town Council has committed funds to the £210,000 project as well as securing significant external financial support from the Ashington Leisure Partnership, Ashington Town Team, Northumberland County Council’s Housing Developer Fund, Scottish Power’s Windfarm Development Fund and Gleeson Homes Ltd.  Ashington’s County Council members have also contributed through their Local Members Improvement Scheme funds.

In developing the plans the Town Council asked local schoolchildren, from the nearby Bothal Primary School, what they would like to see in the park as well as consulting with a Parent & Toddler Group and young people from YMCA Northumberland. The ideas and views from this work have been incorporated into the final plans.

The play area will include swings, roundabouts, see-saws, climbing frames and slides. The design features ‘zoned areas’, based on age groups, with equipment that will help develop and challenge the young people both physically and mentally.  The inclusion of the MUGA and outdoor gym will also encourage physical & social activity for other members of the community and encourage greater usage of Peoples Park for positive physical activity.  

The Town Council have appointed Kompan Ltd to develop the project. Kompan have a track record of developing quality, robust play areas and have a Play Institute comprising of an international network of play and child specialists who research and monitor the latest societal trends in children’s play. This knowledge has been incorporated into the inclusive design that gives full consideration to those with physical disabilities as well as those who may be on the autistic spectrum.

County and Town Councillor for the Bothal Ward, Councillor Lynne Grimshaw, said ‘We are sure the development of this play facility will be welcomed by residents. The Town Council has worked with a number of partners to secure additional monies for the project to provide a more inclusive facility for the town. The play area, in the west of Ashington, will complement the regeneration work that is now taking place at Hirst Park and will give the young people of our town excellent new facilities where they can spend their pastimes in a positive and healthy way’.

Mr Brian Storey, Chair of the Ashington Leisure Partnership who have made a £25,000 contribution to the project, addsThe Leisure Partnership are delighted to be able to support the ambitious play area scheme at People's Park. The play equipment previously located at the old Institute site was popular but limited. The Town Council are to be congratulated for looking to provide robust play and activity facilities for a range of different age groups that will be used and enjoyed by generations to come'.

Mr Paul Taylor, of Kompan Ltd, addedIt has been a pleasure to work in partnership with Ashington Town Council in designing the new play site. The expertise and knowledge developed through the Play Institute was instrumental to ensure that the plans for the park are fully inclusive.  The flow throughout the site ensures that there is a solution for all ages to play and have fun. We are looking forward to seeing the finished site being used for many years to come'.

Work is planned to start at Peoples Park in April with a planned opening in June.