An upgrade of the Luxford Field play area is now within touching distance.
Uckfield town councillors on Monday (November 18) agreed to set aside enough money in next year’s budget to top up funds already set aside for the work.
The current play area is in a poor state and rundown.
Various pieces of equipment have been removed in recent times, due to defects, leaving the site with only a few play opportunities.
The site became ‘blighted’ because the land was part of a proposed regeneration of the town centre.
The project could have included remodelling or reshaping the Luxford Field and town councillors for many years felt it was not worthwhile spending money on a play area which could be ripped up within a short of space of time.
However, the regeneration project stalled in tough financial times and the changing habits of supermarket shoppers which meant major food retailers stopped building new stores.
Eventually the regeneration plan was shelved in the summer of 2018 for three main reasons:
- Major supermarkets and retailers were not interested;
- There is limited potential for residential development as part of the project; and
- The Holy Cross school site was not available for at least the short-term.
The collapse of the regeneration scheme meant councillors could consider and justify upgrading the play park in a similar way to the ones at Hempstead Road, Hughes Way, and Ridgewood, were in recent years.
Councillors agreed to a suggestion from officers that the area should be re-shaped in the northwest corner of the Luxford Field instead of the long, thin strip of land used at present.
The new shape will enable parents to more easily watch children using equipment in different parts of the site.
It will also allow easy ‘flow’ between play pieces.
Estimates are in the region of £130,000 to carry out the upgrade and the council has nearly £120,000 already put aside for the work.
They agreed a further £20,000 should be added to the pot in the next budget period, which begins in April next year.
They also gave permission for officers to go out formally to tender for the play area in 2020/2021.
The specification will be for low maintenance equipment, which can be used by all users and abilities.
The current trees and picnic area will remain.
Councillors were told that the new shape of the play area would not affect events traditionally held on the Luxford Field.
Land no longer used for the play area will be reInstated and incorporated into the field.
Something to look out for when the work is completed will be an eye-catching, multi-use piece which the report to councillors said would have a “wow factor”.