Council to spend £200,000 on improving play spaces

Dereham Mayor Phillip Duigan opened the new play area on Neatherd Moor back in 2016. Picture: Matthe

Then-mayor of Dereham Phillip Duigan opening the play area on the Neatherd Moor in 2016

A Norfolk town council is to spend £200,000 on improving its children's play areas, as part of an ongoing project to improve the town’s open space provision. 

At a Tuesday meeting of Dereham Town Council’s recreation committee, councillors looked at a report they had commissioned a consultancy to produce for them, which lays out in detail which parts of Dereham suffer from the worst shortfalls of open space.

The report concludes that while the north of the town is well-served by natural green spaces, it is still short of formal play areas. The need for space of any kind in the south of Dereham however is deemed “more pressing”.

Councillors resolved to invite play equipment providers to improve five of its play-spaces, using a budget of £200,000 to upgrade the equipment for teenagers in particular. 

Dereham Recreation Ground and the play area at Recreation Road in Toftwood were both identified by the council as having “tired” play equipment.

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Improvements are also to be made to the play areas at Girling Road and at School Lane, while Breckland District Council have offered the town council £1500 to replace the broken roundabout at the Neatherd Moor play area, which the meeting’s agenda notes described as “beyond repair”. 

Councillor Philip Morton

Councillor Philip Morton proposed the town investigate how it could expand its play provision - Credit: Submitted

As well as the improvements, councillor Philip Morton successfully proposed the council “look to see if there are new areas we could put new play equipment into.”

In addition, councillors agreed to adopt the play space Persimmon Homes have planned to include at their development of 100 homes east of Westfield Road.  

Stuart Green, 27, the new mayor of Dereham, and believed to be the youngest they have ever had.

Mayor Stuart Green said adopting the play space on the development east of Westfield Road would mean residents could "come to an elected official, rather than trying to speak to some management company who disappear with their money into the sun”. - Credit: Archant 2020

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“I think it’s a good idea, it gives us more control over what happens there,” said mayor Stuart Green. 

“Also for residents - they can come to an elected official, rather than trying to speak to some management company who disappear with their money into the sun,” he added.

The need for play space in the town has become increasingly urgent, as its population grows year upon year. 

Dereham town clerk Tony Needham said the keyfobs would cost about £1,000. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Town clerk Tony Needham recently pointed out that the open space deficit in Dereham is growing year after year.

At a March meeting of Breckland council’s planning committee, town clerk Tony Needham said: “Dereham has the biggest deficit in outdoor playing space of any parish in Breckland… over 31 hectares. That is 23% of the overall Breckland deficit.”

He added: “Between 2007-2015, the deficit of outdoor playing space in Dereham increased by over one hectare per year.”

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