By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
KIRKLEES Council’s plans to strip equipment from its playgrounds as part of a £9.5m revamp has been shelved – but only temporarily.
It still intends to go ahead with its Playable Places Strategy after the public have had their say.
The project has proved unpopular with residents who baulked at the prospect of losing traditional play equipment such as slides, swings, roundabouts and climbing frames from some playgrounds.
Instead the council said it would “re-imagine” many of its 300-plus playgrounds under new classifications: Destination, Community and Doorstep.
The latter designation meant replacing mechanical equipment with more natural elements.
Those “unhelpful” classifications have now been dumped along with a list of 137 potentially at-risk playgrounds that “looked like a fait accompli”.
The council says the £9.5m plan represents an increased spend, £5.5m more than if it simply replaced existing or outdated equipment. Coun Rob Walker denied it was a U-turn. Instead he said the “complete moratorium” on the modernisation plan represented a “revision”.
The programme may now not get underway until next spring, to be rolled out over five-years.
Coun Walker (Lab, Colne Valley) said the project was “a very important and positive strategy that will hopefully transform the lives of people living in Kirklees”.
He said no decisions have been made and he doesn’t want any parks or play spaces to close.
The council will begin a full public consultation exercise but no date has been set.
Key to the revised plan will be the “absolutely critical” feedback from the public, including community groups and schools.