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Benton play park in full swing after official opening

PUBLISHED: 13:27 16 September 2016

St Aiden school pupils in the play area

St Aiden school pupils in the play area

Archant

A ribbon cutting ceremony officially marked the opening of the Benton play park on Thursday.

As excited children tested out the new equipment, proud residents, park trustees and local figures gathered to celebrate the long-awaited moment.

Roger Backhouse, group trustee and secretary, said he was delighted that the hard work had finally paid off.

He said: “I’m so pleased this day is finally here, after many years of hard work.

“Back in 2006, I thought a community play park would be great for the children.

“Not all the allotments were being used, so I approached Seven Kings & Goodmayes Allotment Society to see if we could transform the land.”

The transformed space in Benton Road, Seven Kings, includes a floodlit multi-use games area, outdoor gym, play space and car park as well as plants, trees and wildlife-friendly landscaping.

The project, which cost just under £300,000, received funding from a number of sources including Redbridge Council, Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure and Sport England.

In 2007, the future of the park faced problems as the council considered selling allotments south of Vicarage Lane, displacing allotment holders to the play park site.

In 2008, it was formally agreed that the park could be built there and the land was included in the Redbridge Play Strategy, highlighting the area’s lack of space for children to safely play in.

Roger said he hoped the playground would provide years of enjoyment for young residents.

He said: “It’s taken a long time to get here, but I’m absolutely delighted.

“We have been very lucky to have six trustees with a lot of experience, who helped navigate us.

“The park includes a sports area for St Aiden’s and Palmer’s Catholic pupils and I can see some of them right now enjoying themselves!

“The schools have been very supportive of us from the beginning, and have also agreed to help with future running costs.

“It would not have happened without their support.”

Against the backdrop of cuts to council funding, Roger said he didn’t know if a project like this would be possible now.

He said: “I don’t know if you could manage it now.

“We had a lot of support from the council, but had to apply for funding from a lot of different places.

“It was a very long process, and we received a lot of help from Redbridge volunteer centre.

“Now, I’m pleased to officially open the park for future generations.”


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