New north Norwich play area gets finishing touch

A north Norwich play area could boast just two worn-out swings a few years ago- but a local graffiti artist has now painted a mural to add the finishing touches to the revamped site.

The artwork on the back wall of the play area in Leonards Street, near St Augustines Street, provides a backdrop to the new community facility.

Instead of two worn-out swings, the community now has a brand new grassed play area with smart wooden play equipment and amphitheatre-style seating. The open space has had new grass, other planting and two new benches.

Last summer the council asked residents to get involved in deciding how money should be spent on making improvements to the play area and open space.

The council wanted to use funding of around �90,000, which came from contributions local housing developers must make to community projects, to improve the area.

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Brenda Arthur, Norwich City Council Leader, said: 'The local community really worked hard to tell us what they wanted in this play space. What we have achieved is a play area that is more open, and a sheer delight.'

St Augustine's Community Together Residents' Association encouraged local people to shape the makeover, and secretary Stuart McLaren said: 'We first had a meeting about improving the area about three to four years ago.

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'The then city councillor Adrian Holmes was involved. Later on the council held an exhibition and asked residents what they wanted at the play area, and the result is a much improved site.

'Before, it was a really run-down area, with just two rusty swings, and was not very inviting. This area of Norwich is quite urbanised and there are not many open spaces to enjoy.'

Tony Allen, artistic director for StickyFingerz, a local graffiti company, was commissioned to brighten up the back wall of the play area.

As he grew up in north Norwich, he said he was pleased to give something back to the neighbourhood.

Youngsters Sam Magee, four and a half, and brother Toby Magee, three and a half, and their mother Angela Cassidy, from nearby Guernsey Road, certainly appreciated the difference.

Ms Cassidy said: 'We always walk through here so it will be somewhere where the children enjoy coming to.'

The new play area is part of a 'mini-renaissance' in one of Norwich's most historic streets which has ben thriving since the opening of the one-way system.

Several new businesses and enterprises have opened this year in St Augustine's, and a community centre for the area was officially opened last month.

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