New Doe Copse Way Play Park
After public consultation last summer, the new accessible themed play park off Stem Lane has now been officially opened, on Saturday 9th March 2019 in a ceremony starting at 12 noon, with wholesome fruit supplied by Tesco and a goody bag from HAGS for the children.
The Mayor of New Milton, Cllr David Rice-Mundy duly performed the opening ceremony by cutting a ribbon to the much-improved children’s play area along Doe Copse Way on a very pleasant day weather-wise, with bright sunshine heralding the official opening. Mayor said: “We’re very proud of our latest Play Park and look forward to seeing children spending many happy hours having fun and enjoying outdoor exercise here, a nice change for many.”
Cllr Geoff Blunden, Chairman of the Council’s Amenities Committee emphasised that “The budget for the new play park was £93k and I am delighted to report that the project was funded entirely by Developers’ Contributions from Section 106 monies, not by the local ratepayer; hence our precept is unaffected, which is very good news for our local residents. This is the first such project to be managed in-house, being built on time and within budget.”
The new play area seeks to meet a recognised shortfall in play provision for a wider age and abilities range in New Milton, by providing an enlarged play space with a range of equipment suitable for children up to about 10, that is also accessible to disabled children & their ‘carers’ in accordance with current planning policy. The scheme seeks to not only replace an existing provision that was small in scale and limited to cater for children up to 5-years only, but to address the recognised shortfall in provision for children of up to about 10 in accordance with Local Plan policy, and national guidance.
The guidance suggested this location should provide for a LEAP, a Locally Equipped Area for Play aimed at children who can go out to play independently with a 5-minute walk from home. The existing open space at Doe Copse Way has added benefit of meeting accessibility criteria: most children can access the site without crossing highly trafficked roads, for example, utilising the extensive network of footpath and cycling routes.
In addition, there is a good level of oversight by neighbouring housing, which has shown to be helpful in negating potential anti-social behaviour and providing confidence in both children and adults of its safety. The much-enhanced play space also complies with the benchmark for buffers between habitable rooms and active spaces for play.
There is compelling research and a good body of evidence to suggest children who have positive opportunities to engage in play in a natural environment have the ability to increase their attention span, reduce depression and lower the symptoms of attention deficit disorders, alongside other accepted benefits of outdoor physical exercise. However, human instinct and our natural response to our environment simply reinforces that we enjoy being in green spaces, we feel relaxed and enriched by them. Why else are we drawn to public parks, the countryside and our memories of playing in the woods as children?
13 March 2019