POTENTIAL improvements to a Winchester playground have been open for discussion, with plans to make the area more accessible and better suited to its users.

Winchester City Council has revealed the findings from public consultations on the development of Abbey Gardens playground.

Over 300 questionnaires were completed at the playground in The Broadway and online, reflecting what children and their parents want to see from the playground’s refurbishment.

Councillor Charles Radcliffe, who led the call for feedback on Facebook, has now revealed the findings from the recent consultations.

Results have been summarised in an infrographic that illustrates how people answered.

A new slide topped the list of requests, followed by a multiplay area, vehicles to climb on, a cradle swing and a climbing frame. Other suggestions included ideas for making the play area more accessible for children with disabilities and special needs, and for creating links with nearby nature.

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Extra bins, picnic tables and benches also made the list.

Hampshire Chronicle: Winchester City Council's infrographic of results from public consultations on Abbey Gardens' refurbishments.

Last year the city council agreed improvements to nine Winchester playgrounds and routine maintenance to a further 15.

As a popular playground in the city, some £230,000 has been budgeted for the refurbishment of Abbey Gardens, more than double the cost originally proposed in the Town Forum in June 2021.

Work on the play area is set to start after the summer and with ground works expected to be done by Christmas.

Council officers held three days of public consultations at the local park from June 29 to July 1 to collect feedback from playground users in person.

Meanwhile, the Winchester City Council Natural Environment and Recreation Team accepted feedback via an online questionnaire until July 17, with people encouraged to ask their children what they would like to see in their playground.

Cllr Radcliffe said: “We’re really pleased with the level of interest and engagement we’ve seen - reflected in the conversations officers had with park users, parents and children on-site and online. Altogether the Council collected 184 completed questionnaires reflecting feedback from some 315 children.

“All input received will help shape the final design, including decisions about what sort of play equipment goes into the new play area. We also want to make sure the new playground is accessible to as many children as possible, including those with special needs.

“Lots of us have fond memories of taking our kids to play in Abbey Gardens over the years. The new playground promises to be a big improvement over the current one — somewhere a new generation can lay down happy memories of their own.”

The council expects the playground to be closed for around six months.

A contractor has already been confirmed to remove the existing playground equipment, after which ground works will be completed, new surfaces laid and, by the end of the year, new playground equipment installed.

The council is hoping that improvements to Abbey Gardens will make the park “better and accessible to more children than ever”.

While the consultations reflect input from 315 children and their parents, the number of questionnaires completed was 185, with some including feedback from multiple children.

The five-year programme of improvements to the city’s play areas was agreed at the Winchester Town Forum last year in June.

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