THE local council has launched an ambitious Play Park Strategy which will guide the provision, sustainable management and development of play parks across the District over the next 10 years.
The strategy will see an investment of almost £5 million over the next decade to develop, transform and upgrade the council’s play park estate. Almost £4 million has been earmarked for the construction of new facilities and the upgrading of existing play areas and a further £1 million will be invested on the management of existing play parks and the development and transformation of others.
Speaking about the new strategy, the chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong said: “We recognise that Play areas are vital for the physical development of our children as climbing, jumping and running supports health improvements and increased upper and lower-body strength. Playgrounds with the right equipment can also help improve balance, agility and coordination. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to improving the wellbeing of our young people and to creating safe, accessible, inclusive, exciting and fun play facilities with additional elements such as the incorporation and integration of ‘Green Space’ within our Play Parks.
"The global pandemic has, in my view, more than anything identified the need for every child in our district to have equality of opportunity and access to play facilities. In the periods of lockdown, they provided an outlet for children to get out to enjoy exercise in the open air.
"The new play park strategy represents a significant investment in the Council estate over the next 10 years. Outdoor play provision is so important in the development of our children and through the strategy, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will identify and meet the needs of children and families across the rural and urban population so that everyone has access to high quality, accessible play facilities.”
The development of the strategy followed a major review of the Council’s existing play facilities and focuses on the play needs of children, teenagers and young adults. In addition, it also recognises and considers the need of other visitors such as elderly carers, and groups of children or adults with disabilities.
Within the plan is the provision across the district for 97 council managed play areas. Three of the existing play areas, Gortin Glens, the Grange Park, Omagh and Fermanagh Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen will be designated “Destination Play Areas”, a further 6 will be designated as “neighbourhood – equipped” play areas, while the remainder will be locally equipped play areas which will all meet the recognised standards for accessibility and inclusivity.
It is anticipated that work on the development and transformation of the council’s play park estate will commence this financial year and the work will be managed by a dedicated Play Plan delivery team.