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Viking Ship Play Area in Ethelbert Crescent, Cliftonville

The council has secured a successful funding bid to replace and improve the play facilities for local children in Ethelbert Crescent. Playgrounds have a hugely positive impact on children’s physical and mental health. 

The improvement works will ensure that the existing apparatus is replaced with a high-quality play area, with more inclusive and accessible equipment for the community. 

Frequently asked questions about the play area:

The Viking Ship playground was closed to the public on Wednesday 9 February on health and safety grounds and contractors have installed fencing to ensure that members of the public do not enter the site. 

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A report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) published in November 2021, confirmed that the ship, some of the other play equipment and the play area’s surfacing is not compliant with the relevant health and safety standards. The equipment and the ship continues to deteriorate and the timber is decaying from the inside out.

The council has a duty to ensure the health and safety of playground users which is why we took the decision to close the Viking ship playground, with immediate effect, before the improvement works were due to start. 

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The Viking Ship play park was installed in 2009 with the major structural components being of Robinia wood and bespoke design. This compares with the majority of play equipment that is made from galvanised/powder coated steel or composite materials and is of a standard design.

While the chosen materials gave the bespoke design a degree of authenticity, Robinia wood is a natural material which in this instance has not proven to be resistant to the site conditions. 

The council’s total annual playground budget of £39,000 a year is split between 31 playgrounds across Thanet. In 2020/21 a disproportionate £12,647 was spent on essential maintenance and £1,900 on inspections at the Ethelbert Crescent play area. This level of expenditure is unsustainable and does not leave sufficient budget to maintain the other 30 playgrounds in the district.

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Community Parks funding of £170k is being used to replace all of the existing play area equipment apart from the galvanised steel framed swings which were newly installed as a replacement last year. 

The work will include the demolition/removal of the existing viking ship, playhouse climbing frame, rocker seal and sprung rocker ship. Where possible the large natural timber sections will be carefully removed and taken to Dane Park depot for storage with the intention of recycling for non structural uses such as raised bedding borders in future maintenance and/or improvement schemes. The play apparatus proposed for Ethelbert Crescent consists of powder coated galvanised steel posts with structural panels of EcoCore which is a highly durable, eco friendly material, which is produced from 100% recycled post consumer material from food packing waste. Raised decks are constructed from aluminium profiles.

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Signage is in place directing people to the nearest alternative playground in Dane Park; a ten minute walk away.

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On 9 November 2021, Kent County Council confirmed an allocation of £211,000 to Thanet District Council for community parks and children’s play equipment.The funding required councils to assess the community parks to ensure that the additional funding is targeted at communities and play parks where there will be the biggest benefit. It also indicated that wherever possible, the funding should be focused on enhancing community parks in areas of deprivation. 

The timescale for delivery of a project using this funding is very short. The new play equipment or proposed improvements must be installed/complete by the end of March 2022. Given the short timeframe, schemes were considered at pace and consequently, a high-level ‘Community Parks’ scheme was added to the 2021-22 Capital Programme.

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Yes. Community Parks funding has also been allocated to make improvements at play areas in the following parts of Thanet:

Crispe Park, Birchington 

This play area consists of older steel framed play equipment with a galvanised steel perimeter fence. Some of the play apparatus has a poor appearance due to the condition of the painted surfaces and the perimeter fencing is exhibiting corrosion and delaminated paint in some places. It is proposed to refurbish the play equipment and perimeter fence by applying fresh paint coatings. 

Northdown Park, Cliftonville 

The rubberised safety surfacing around the play equipment at Northdown Park is in poor condition and requires replacement. The current condition means that regular inspections and temporary repairs must take place to avoid trip hazards and maintain the surface. The proposed complete replacement will reduce the maintenance burden at the park and the improved appearance will encourage use of the play equipment.

Memorial Recreation Ground, Broadstairs 

This play area was substantially replaced and upgraded in 2014. However it has sadly suffered two major instances of vandalism, the second of which resulted in the entire timber boundary fence being destroyed. The play area is now open to the recreation area reducing the safety and security of children using the play equipment. Instances of dog fouling and dogs running through the play area have occurred since the damaged fence has been removed. It is therefore proposed to install a new powder coated bow topped galvanised steel fence to encourage the safe use of this park. This material selection will also make it much harder to repeat the wide scale damage caused by the previous vandalism.

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The Cabinet approved the decision to invest the Community Parks grant funding from Kent County Council (KCC) in the Viking Ship play area at Ethelbert Crescent in December 2021. 

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Plans to replace and improve the play area equipment at Ethelbert Crescent in Cliftonville are already underway. New equipment has been ordered and is currently being manufactured. Work is expected to start at the end of March and finish in late May 2022.

 

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We expect the playground, complete with new equipment and safer surfacing, to re-open at the end of May 2022.

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The council’s internal playground inspections report that the organisation is unable to economically maintain the existing equipment to an acceptable standard. Replacing certain parts of the equipment would not be a sustainable or viable option.

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The timescales relating to the KCC grant funding were such that there were limited opportunities to carry out community consultations, however the council will ensure that the local community are kept informed as work gets underway.

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The Cabinet approved the decision to invest the Community Parks grant funding from Kent County Council in December 2021. The project proposal has also been approved by KCC in their role as funder. The grant has been committed and the council has entered into a contract with the supplier/installer. We are committed to completing the project with the confirmed grant funding from KCC and in line with the terms of the agreement.

The council was informed of offers made from local residents to community groups to fund repairs to the existing equipment, though no formal offers have been received. 

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The project constitutes permitted development as described by the General Permitted Development Order 2015, and as such, does not require planning permission. 

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Yes, we will be planting a one metre strip around the fence perimeter. As the site is very exposed to coastal wind, we have selected hardy coastal plants, including species that are already established on site.

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