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Agenda item

Maidstone Play Area Policy

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Maidstone Play Area Policy and the updated map, which had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting.

 

Councillors D Burton, Naghi and D Mortimer addressed the Committee on this item.

 

It was noted that the Leisure Manager made the following amendments to the report:

 

·  In the table at Paragraph 2.7.4, South Park Play Area should come under High Street and South Ward.

 

·  The Harbour play area in Sutton Valence should be added to the list of Strategically Important Play Areas (SIPAs) in the table at Paragraph 2.7.4.

 

The Leisure Manager highlighted the following points to the Committee:

 

·  The Maidstone Play Area Policy was a supporting document to the Maidstone Parks and Open Spaces 10 Year Strategic Plan 2017 – 2027, which was adopted by this Committee on 4 July 2017.

 

·  Over the last two years £1.8 million from the Capital Programme had been invested on play area improvements in the Borough; 32 play areas had been replaced or improved in line with the 12 minute standard.

 

·  The 33 Parish Council owned play areas formed an important part of the SIPA network as they provided play opportunities to residents in rural areas not covered by Council provision. To support these play areas, £200,000 had been made available for a Parish Play Area Grants Scheme over a two year period, with each Parish Council able to claim up to £10,000 each if they met the criteria.

 

·  Non-Strategic Play Areas (NSPAs) would not be maintained in the future using the Council’s resources. The NSPAs would be offered to Parish Councils, Housing Trusts and other Community Groups to take over. If no interested parties came forward, the play equipment would be removed when it was no longer serviceable and retained as green space.

 

In response to a question from the Committee, the Leisure Manager advised that the methodology used to determine the 12 minute standard was formed by walking the routes to play areas and taking into account obstacles such as rivers and motorways. The Officer affirmed that most residents would live considerably closer than 12 minutes to a play area.

 

The Committee was concerned that the closure of NSPAs would mean that children of different age groups would be penalised and have no area suitable that they could play at.

 

The Committee requested that NSPAs be evaluated and reviewed on an individual basis and that more information regarding usage and funding sources (specifically Section 106 contributions) be presented before any decisions regarding the decommissioning of play areas were made. It was noted that the Committee were keen that consultation with relevant stakeholders take place before decisions on individual play areas were made.

 

In response to a question, Officers informed the Committee that the Parish Play Grants Scheme provided a way of supporting the SIPAs and that without the scheme being in place the SIPAs could be jeopardised.

 

RESOLVED:

 

  1. That the implementation of a £200,000 Parish Play Grants Scheme over a two year period, which will support Parish Councils in improving strategically important play areas that they own, be agreed.

 

Voting:   For: 7   Against: 2   Abstentions: 0

 

2.  That decisions to decommission Non-Strategic Play Areas be taken on an individual basis prior to closure.

 

Voting:   For: 8   Against: 0   Abstentions: 1

 

Note: The Chairman confirmed that the second recommendation on the committee report was replaced by the Committee’s second decision.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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