A South Lakeland play area has won an award for commitment to inclusivity in its planning.
Rayrigg Meadow at Millerground, on the shores of Windermere, has been PiPA (Play Inclusive Play Areas) accredited with a Bronze Award after scoring 82 per cent in an accreditation process which audited provision at the play area.
To be accredited, play areas have to meet minimum requirements of good accessibility throughout the play space, provision for at least three senses to be accessed from both a seated and standing position and an opportunity for all children to get their ‘whole bodies involved in dynamic play through sliding, climbing, spinning or swinging’.
Rayrigg Meadow was only two per cent off a Silver Award. It is hoped that further improvements to facilities as work on the Millerground enhancement plan continues – including possible provision for refreshments and disability-friendly toilets and changing facilities through the Changing Places scheme – could mean an upgrade of the award if the area is reviewed in the future.
Sites that are awarded this accreditation are added to an interactive map so families can find great destinations that will meet their needs.
The opening of the play area at Millerground in May this year marked a major milestone on the journey towards making the lakeside park a significant community asset.
The play area is part of the Millerground Enhancement Plan, which has included opening up the park so the lake can be seen from the road, a new picnic area and improvements to paths which will allow more people easier access to the lake shore.
The 39-acre site is owned by SLDC, Rayrigg Meadow Trust and the National Trust. All the landowners are supporting the enhancement project, which is also backed by Windermere and Bowness Civic Society, Windermere Town Council, GLL and the Lake District National Park Authority as part of the Millerground Enhancement Group.
The group has been raising funds for the project since 2013 and received funding from SLDC, the True Colours Trust and the National Lottery Community Fund to create an inclusive play area for both local and visiting children to enjoy.
In 2016, the project received two lots of funding worth £150,000 from SLDC towards the overall project to revamp the site – £50,000 from the Locally Important Projects (LIPs) fund and a further £100,000 from the council’s capital fund. A further LIPs grant of £10,000 was given to the project in 2018 to add to a grant of £5,000 in 2014 to restore a historic viewpoint.
Windermere ward councillor and Portfolio Holder for Climate Emergency and Localism, Councillor Dyan Jones, said: “We are have had great success working along with groups in our communities to improve parks and open spaces in every part of South Lakeland.
“We are very proud of what we have helped to deliver at Rayrigg Meadow, and the continuing enhancement work at Millerground as a whole. It is a fantastic example of effective partnership working delivering real results.
“Providing inclusive facilities which can be enjoyed by all is massively important and I am delighted that this award recognises the quality of the provision there. It is now our hope to continue the enhancements and improve on this Bronze Award.”
SLDC has invested almost one million pounds improving its parks and play areas over the past five years.
The council has contributed £529,000 in capital funding and a further £404,000 has been awarded to projects through the council’s Locally Important Projects (LIPs) fund which supports community initiatives.
Individual district councillors have also donated £14,000 from their Member Locality Budgets.
In Kendal the council has invested in playgrounds at Hallgarth, Sandylands, Rinkfield and Kendal Parks.
Ambleside’s Rothay Park play area has had a complete makeover and in Ulverston, Mill Dam playground and Lightburn Park have also been improved.
Playground projects in Oxenholme, Flookburgh, Milnthorpe and Ings have also received funding.