£500,000 to create inclusive new-look play area at Fife country park
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Councillors have agreed to invest £500,000 replacing the play area and creating a brand-new inclusive destination playpark at Lochore Meadows Country Park.
The decision was taken at the recent meeting of the community and housing services sub-committee .
Swings designed to be used by children with disabilities and a sensory tunnel will be amongst a range of new equipment coming to the park.
New fencing at key locations near the loch and through the wooded area, as well as CCTV, will help keep visitors safe, and a new pathway will connect the play area to the visitor centre, giving easy access to the café and toilet facilities.
Local communities shared their views on the proposed designs when they went on show in the visitor centre during the summer.
The investment was welcomed by the councillor who convenes the committee.
Judy Hamilton said: “Lochore Meadows has been enjoyed by generations of Fifers and our commitment to improve the facilities there will ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”
Iain Laing, park manager believes the investment will confirm Lochore’s place as a destination park “where families can spend the whole day without costing the earth, but with plenty to keep everyone occupied.”He added: “It’s one of the jewels in our crown and we want people to keep coming back. The new playpark will be something special, there won’t be anything like it nearby. “
The park has worked closely with the NHS and play park designers to develop a much-improved play area that is accessible and inclusive.
Added Mr Laing: “Our play area has always been first class and the current facility has been enjoyed by hundreds of children every day for many years, but this amount of use takes a heavy toll on the equipment.
“The time has come to refresh the area for the benefit of the next generation of children with a greater emphasis on inclusive play allowing all children to play together as one.”
A further £250,000 has been earmarked for infrastructure works which will support and complement existing facilities. The total cost of the project could be in the region of £800,000. The project is expected to go out to tender this month, with a contractor being appointed by the end of the year. Work should start in January 2022 and be completed by April, weather permitting.
The investment comes as outdoor venues like Lochore Meadows have enjoyed increased footfall as Fifers enjoyed some fresh air and open space during the pandemic.
It saw visitor numbers reach 900,000 over the last year.
The new play area will enhance the extensive facilities already on offer, which also include a new energy efficient visitor centre, built in 2017, with a cafe and toilet facilities, golf, mountain bike trails, water sports, woodland walks, a picnic and barbeque area and plenty of wildlife.
Over the summer, staycationers were welcomed to the park with motorhomes able to rent a pitch for an overnight stay as they toured through Fife.