The Panel considered a report which detailed the development of an investment plan for delivery of refurbishment works or full replacement of Council owned play and outdoor sports facilities across the district.
Play and outdoor sports facilities were important assets in many of our parks and open spaces and it is important these facilities were provided, maintained and developed effectively. To ensure this happens, the proposed investment and delivery plan detailed in Appendix 1 of the report had been developed and proposed a programme of refurbishment and/or replacement of selected facilities over a 4 year rolling period.
To develop the plan, quality assessments of existing Council owned play and outdoor sports facilities had been undertaken which highlighted the facilities that required improvements, the approximate timeframe for when these improvements needed to be delivered by, and a budget estimate for how much the improvements were likely to cost.
The estimated cost to deliver the first 4 years of this plan was £320,000and this amount would need to be added to the medium term financial plan (MTFP) as a growth item from the 2023/24 financial year. The impact of this resulted in the additional revenue borrowing costs as detailed in the report.
It may be possible to offset the amount of funding required to deliver the proposed programme of works using section 106 funds secured for these types of improvements from housing developers. Where this was possible, the funds secured would be factored into each project on a case-by-case basis, resulting in a reduced cost to the Council.
During the planning phase for each project, officers within the Council’s Leisure and Recreation team would assess whether it was possible to secure external funding towards them. If this was possible, it would further reduce the cost to the Council for delivering each project. However, should it not be possible to secure external funding, the proposed budget request included in the report would still be sufficient to deliver all projects to the required level.
The District Council did not have the responsibility for refurbishment or replacement of play areas and some outdoor sports facilities in Cheadle but, recognising the importance of these facilities to local residents, officers were working with Cheadle Town Council to develop an improvement plan for Tean Road Recreation ground and Churchill Road Recreation ground. This plan was expected to be completed during 2022 and funding via a number of section 106 agreements had already been identified to contribute towards delivery of any plan, once trigger points were met within these agreements.
Councillor Deaville – Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Sports welcomed comments and encouraged members to contact him with any potential projects.
Gareth Knapper – Service Development Officer and Rob Wilks – Principal Officer were in attendance to respond to any queries as detailed below:
Equality Impact Assessment – The assessment was positive for all users of the play facilities and members were pleased the plans were inclusive. The play areas incorporated as much fully accessible equipment as possible and additional equipment was installed when new innovative items were made available. Although Brough Park had benefited from improved play facilities, it was felt that more could be done for users with physical disabilities. An additional column on the spreadsheets for each of the play areas to record accordance with equalities and inclusivity was suggested by a member of the Panel
Decommissioned Paddock Play Area in Biddulph – As the area was prone to anti-social behaviour (ASB) and surface water flooding, a suggestion was made for the area to be re-naturalised. Councillor Deaville advised, that he was keen to develop facilities where ASB had taken place and a site visit would be arranged.
Church Road Play Area – It was confirmed that the cost for the recently replaced sleepers at this site would not be deducted from the allocated budget of £60,000.
It was highlighted that the Section 106 monies were still to be spent on the Churchill Road Recreation Area and the development of the railway track in Cheadle should be incorporated in the plans. The Portfolio Holder gave assurance that the railway track was of high importance to the Council and that complexities around lease arrangements needed to be overcome. At present, this area was a well-used public amenity.
Piece of Land at Hammersley Hayes Old Road (next to new development) – It was agreed that this unsightly section of land would be investigated by officers at the Council.
Councillor Ward – Portfolio Holder for Communities agreed to look into the suggestions around increased CCTV surveillance at play areas in Cheadle and Cruso Street in Leek. Other members had differing opinions around increased CCTV and felt that improved planning and design of developments provided passive surveillance to areas prone to ASB.
DECIDED: The Panel RECOMMENDED Cabinet APPROVED the report and supported the refurbishment or replacement of Council owned play areas and outdoor sports facilities across the district as detailed in the report.