July 17, 2013 | Brenkley News
A long-term campaign to build a much-needed play park in a north Newcastle village has reached the end of its first phase with the official opening of the new facility.
A group of parents in Hazlerigg has been working towards raising the money needed to fund the project for more than five years, with a view to replacing an existing, rundown play park that was sited away from public view and therefore vulnerable to vandalism.
A feasibility study was carried out by landscape architects Northern Environment Workshop on behalf of the Hazlerigg Action Group and Newcastle City Council which looked at the different options for the play park, and what they each might cost.
Part of the feasibility study involved local families visiting a number of play areas in the communities around Hazlerigg to help the children compile a wish list of equipment they hoped to eventually see in their park.
The Action Group decided to focus on creating a play park for younger children in the first instance at a cost of £50,000, with plans for further facilities for older children to follow as phase two of the project in the future.
A £30,000 grant from regional employer The Banks Group, via its Brenkley Lane Surface Mine Community Fund, was secured to meet the majority of the costs, with the remaining obtained via grants from a number of smaller charitable trusts and from match funding from Newcastle City Council.
A range of play equipment was installed at the park over a six month period, with a number of larger items that can be used for group play included in line with local children’s wishes, and fencing has been included to ensure that younger children are able to play safely away from local roads.
The new play park is located next to the Hazlerigg community centre and memorial hall, and is already proving to be a popular meeting point for local families.
Banks has also provided and installed a number of large rocks from its nearby Shotton surface mine that will act as casual seating for users of the park.
Louise Fairley of the Hazlerigg Action Group says: “Hazlerigg’s existing play area had become run down through use over the years, and it had reached the point where some families were taking buses out of the area to use similar facilities elsewhere.
“Involving the children who will use the park in choosing what equipment was included was absolutely central to the project – they were really keen to tell us what they thought, and it’s great for us all to see so many of their ideas being realised in the park’s final design.
“The new play park offers something for young children of all ages and abilities, and it has become an immediately popular meeting point for young families, which is exactly what we wanted.
“A great deal of hard work and dedication went in from our members to making this project a reality, but we would have had to do a huge amount more to raise the money needed to pay for it without Banks’ generous support, and we’re extremely grateful for their contribution to a fantastic facility that will be well used and appreciated by generations of local children.”
Cllr Anita Lower, who represents the Castle Ward in which Hazlerigg is situated, and who has been involved with the project for several years, adds: “Ward councillors have been delighted to support this project and the hard work by local residents to see this through, and we now have a successful and popular park for all to enjoy, thanks to the support of The Banks Group and others.”
Banks is currently looking to secure planning permission for additional work at the nearby Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, at which around 200 people are currently employed and which contribute around £35m every year to the local economy through wages and the supply chain.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, says: “The commitment and enthusiasm shown by the members of the Hazlerigg Action Group to making this project happen is really inspiring, and it’s fantastic to see the new play park being so well used already by so many local families.”
Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.