Frustration grows over children's play area locked up for almost a year

Residents in Sandy Lane, Dereham, are frustrated that the local play area has been locked up for almost a year

Residents in Sandy Lane, Dereham, are frustrated that the local play area has been locked up for almost a year - Credit: Archant

A row has threatened to erupt over a play park which remains shut after almost a year. 

The entry gate for the play area off Sandy Lane, in Dereham, was padlocked back in June 2021. 

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, has been padlocked since June 2021

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, has been padlocked since June 2021 - Credit: Archant

A spokesman for Breckland Council, which owns and manages the facility, said the site had become unsafe for children to use. 

However, seemingly little progress has been made in the ensuing 11 months, with no sign of the equipment being improved or replaced. 

Gordon Bambridge, Breckland's cabinet member for waste and environment, revealed the council was "investigating options" for improvements.

Children have not had access to the play area in Sandy Lane since before June 2021

Children have not had access to the play area in Sandy Lane since before June 2021 - Credit: Archant

But the lengthy hold-up has caused frustration among parents and councillors in the area, who believe action must be taken. 

Mary Fisher, who has lived in Sandy Lane for more than 30 years, said she was worried her young grandchildren were missing out. 

Most Read

She added: "It's hard for the children. It needs to be opened back up so they have a chance to play there.

Mary Fisher, who lives in Sandy Lane, Dereham

Mary Fisher, who lives in Sandy Lane, Dereham - Credit: Archant

"It has always seemed to be quite popular. Children are always down there after school and on the weekends, but now all they can do is play football on the grass.

"It seems a waste it [the play area] just sitting there doing nothing. You'd think the council would at least make some use of it."

Emily Bell, another Sandy Lane resident, admitted her seven-year-old daughter had not tended to use the play area due to its condition.

"My daughter has never really asked to go there because I just don't think it's much good," said Miss Bell. 

Emily Bell, who lives in Sandy Lane, Dereham

Emily Bell, who lives in Sandy Lane, Dereham - Credit: Archant

"More needs to be done to improve it. It's a really big area and the play facilities should be bigger and better. 

"A play area should be considered an important thing, but perhaps not if it has been left for this long.

"How many children are indoors on their phones, not getting outside? But if there's nothing good for them to play on, they're not going to go out."

The play area was due to be handed over to Dereham Town Council in 2016, but the transfer never took place due to an unresolved issue relating to its boundary. 

According to the Open Spaces Act 1906, local authorities must keep open spaces "in a good and decent state". 

Mr Bambridge added: "We hope to have some news about this in the next week or so."