An official opening saw dignitaries gather on Thursday 13 August at Courtenay Park's play area to celebrate the new revitalised equipment, which has been funded by the District Council. The event was carefully planned to ensure social distancing was followed to avoid spreading the Covid-19 virus.
Previous play equipment was old and nearing the end of its useful life, so a full refit of the play area was planned to provide a safe and fun area for children. The equipment and layout were finalised following a consultation last summer which asked residents, and particularly their children, their views on the proposed design.
Due to the wide range of children accessing the park, a variety of equipment has been included to cater for different age groups from toddlers to older children.
Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, South Hams District Council's Executive Member for Wellbeing, said: "It is always wonderful when we are able to deliver a play park which causes the amount of excitement which this one has. After months of being cooped up due to the coronavirus, I'm sure the children will be delighted to finally enjoy the play park.
"The play equipment was looking very old and was in need of renewal, so we're pleased to have been able to fund a complete overhaul of the equipment and give the park a new lease of life for our youngest residents and visitors."
Due to difficult weather conditions, including torrential rain and storms and then the coronavirus pandemic, the construction period has not been without its problems. The pandemic caused works to stop for the lockdown period, and the laying of new turf on the hottest day of the year which then needed to settle and take hold before the park could finally be reopened, was not ideal.
Salcombe's Mayor, Cllr Nikki Turton, said: "After suffering so many years of neglect, it is wonderful to at last be proud of what we have all achieved in the shape of a totally rejuvenated Courtenay Park. Working alongside South Hams District Council and Wicksteed Leisure to plan and create the new play area was as exciting for me as I hope using the new equipment will be for our younger residents and visitors. A nautical theme was, in fact, my personal aspiration and I am so pleased that it was possible to achieve.
"Considering the huge constraints of the sloping site, I am still amazed at how many pieces of equipment Wicksteed has managed to provide, and yet we still have plenty of grass which brings the whole park together naturally.
"Although this official opening has not been as widely promoted as would normally have been the case, it doesn't lessen the fact that the fantastic play equipment is here, is being well used, and will hopefully be enjoyed for many, many years to come."
Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council and Ward Member for Salcombe and Thurlestone, said: "A lot of hard work has gone into this project. Local children were consulted on the proposals and we had an overwhelmingly positive response to the plans.
"We hope that both local and visiting children will enjoy using the exciting new equipment. I know my own grandchildren certainly have."
SHDC's Ward Member for Salcombe and Thurlestone, Cllr Mark Long, said: "The new play equipment in the park has been a long time coming and this hasn't been quite the opening event we were hoping for due to social distancing restrictions, however we're very pleased to finally see the play area open and providing a valuable new play space for the town.
"We know it is virtually impossible to get young children to socially distance, especially when they are playing, but we would advise parents bring their children to visit the park when it is quieter and to also apply hand sanitiser before and after the children use the equipment to try and limit the spread of the virus."
The play area includes a stimulating and tactile experience to exercise and learn through play using a mix of natural wooden materials, along with bright and vibrant colours to appeal to children of all ages. Equipment to swing, climb, balance and slide is included all with a rubber safety surface beneath to help avoid some of those playground scrapes and falls.
A child enjoying the playground, said: "It's brilliant and I can climb really high!"
Lynne Egginton from Wicksteed Leisure Ltd, said: "Wicksteed Playgrounds was thrilled to have been awarded the contract for the play area at Salcombe following a tendering exercise. We were involved from initial design, through consultation, both on site and in the local school, to final design and installation. Whilst the site and circumstances were challenging, with Coronavirus affecting the build, and a rolling landscape, the final result looks amazing and we hope that the children of Salcombe, and those that visit, will enjoy the play area for many years to come."
For information on Covid-19 How to Stay Safe Outside Your Home, go to the Gov.UK website using this short link: http://tiny.cc/bs9nsz
Issued: 14 August 2020