Locked-up play area to be refurbished after public outcry

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham is to be refurbished

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham is to be refurbished - Credit: Archant

A Dereham play area which has been padlocked shut for almost a year is to finally be refurbished, it has been confirmed. 

The entry gate for the play park off Sandy Lane was first chained and locked in June 2021 after Breckland Council - which owns and manages the facility - deemed some of the equipment to be unsafe. 

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, has been padlocked shut for almost a year

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, has been padlocked shut for almost a year - Credit: Archant

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

front-page story in this newspaper revealed the frustration of local residents over an apparent lack of action. 

But now Breckland has announced it will "shortly begin" a revamp of the facility to bring it back into working order.

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, near The Gemini pub

The play area in Sandy Lane, Dereham, near The Gemini pub - Credit: Archant

The district council also suggested the lengthy delay was partly as a result of discussions with Dereham Town Council (DTC) regarding the park's ownership being transferred. 

Gordon Bambridge, Breckland's cabinet member for waste and environment, said: "We will be refurbishing the play park as soon as possible so the local children will once again have a great facility to enjoy.

"We recognise that the park being closed has caused some frustration, but it was right to fully explore a possible collaborative approach with the town council.

Councillor Gordon Bambridge

Gordon Bambridge, Breckland's cabinet member for waste and environment - Credit: Breckland Council

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"Breckland Council can now move on with the refurbishment of the play equipment and we will be commencing this as soon as possible."

The play area in Sandy Lane, near The Gemini pub, was due to be handed over to DTC 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". 

Amy-Jane Brooks, Dereham town councillor. Picture: AMY-JANE BROOKS

Dereham town councillor Amy-Jane Brooks - Credit: Archant

Town councillor Amy-Jane Brooks, who has long been passionate about improvements being made, said: "I'm really pleased for the kids and the Sandy Lane taxpayers who pay for these services and have been overlooked until now. 

"We [the town council] have been pushing for this since July. It's frustrating that, even while discussions were taking place, Breckland did not repair the area they were responsible for.

"I hope this can now be sorted out quickly and that any new equipment will be looked after."