New chapter for Solihull children’s playground
A children’s playground in Chelmsley Wood has secured planning permission for a new scheme, which it hopes will boost visitor numbers during the winter months.
Plans by Meriden Adventure Playground to install two converted shipping containers at the site – providing its first indoor space – were approved by the council last month.
While the facility is still trying to secure funding for the structures, it hopes a successful application for a grant will allow them to be in place later this year.
The 40ft containers, stacked one on top of another, would offer somewhere for youngsters to use during bad weather, storage space, a venue for meetings and could also be made available for other local groups.
It is the latest effort to improve the Moorend Avenue site, which just two years ago feared it could be forced to close after losing its council funding.
Ali Wood, from the Meriden Adventure Playground Association (MAPA), said that an indoor area would make a huge difference over the winter.
“Sometimes you don’t get any kids at all if it’s tipping it down or it’s so cold, but staff are still there and I feel sorry for them sometimes as the only source of warmth is the fire outside, which is not much good if it’s really raining.”
Warmer weather sees an influx of visitors, with 619 reported in one day during the sunny spell in February.
However, average numbers during the winter months are normally a fraction of this.
The indoor facility is one of a number of improvements in the pipeline, with separate plans to install a lighting column, again designed to make activities easier when the darker nights arrive.
The programme comes after a remarkable turnaround for the playground, which faced an uncertain future after the local authority confirmed it was stopping its funding back in 2017.
Ms Wood said the fears had prompted an extraordinary response from the local community, who were determined “not to lose” the facility, and funding for staff salaries was now in place through to March 2021.
“That summer the community was amazing, they all pulled together and were raising money like no tomorrow,” she said.
“Although the money from events like head shaves is not enough to meet the actual running costs, it’s enough to make people feel they can actually make a difference and it’s enough to buy the paint and glue and other things we need.
“Having got the money for salaries it means that we’ve got the bodies on site and we can build on that, which is why we are now concentrating on the playground itself.”
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/new-chapter-solihull-childrens-playground-16070125