Peanuts To Cover The Highland Council's Playpark Strategy And Action Plan 2023-33
2nd December 2023
Highland Council's Playpark Strategy and Action Plan for 2023-2033 was agreed and adopted by members of the Communities and Place Committee on 29 November 2023.
Resource - The service has limited revenue budget for maintenance of £176,900 for all sites. For materials in 2023/24 it is £18,300, which equates to around £57 per playpark, per year. The Scottish Government is providing Councils £60m over the lifetime of the current parliament. The Council's allocation is £2.9m to 2026 and the phasing of this is detailed in appendix 4 of the strategy. There is currently no capital funding identified post 2026 so there is a risk that some playparks may have to close or items of play removed as equipment reaches end of life and cannot be repaired. Thus, securing new capital funding, identifying ways of income generation and working closely with communities to support fund raising etc. are key solutions to deliver medium to long-term sustainability.
Members also noted that an annual update on progress will be reported to the Committee.
The strategy is underpinned by consultations with playpark users and specifically a survey conducted with children which concluded that they want to play locally, they are interested in the environment and want natural play, and inclusivity an accessibility is important to them.
The Scottish Government is providing Councils £60m over the lifetime of the current parliament. The Council's allocation is £2.9m to 2026 and the phasing of this is detailed in Item 9 of today’s report to Members in appendix 4 of the strategy. See https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4890/communities_and_place_committee
There is currently no capital funding identified after 2026, therefore there may be a possibility that some playparks may have to be closed or items of play removed as equipment reaches end of life and cannot be repaired.
The strategy takes cognisance of those concerns and details that officers will work with communities to identify other income generation streams and will support communities to fundraise. These options are viewed as key solutions to enabling medium to long-term sustainability.
The Strategy proposes a framework for three types of playparks, - neighbourhood, settlement, and destination, which will, over time and as funding is identified, create equality and accessibility in play across Highland.
The Amenities team have also been working with local Members to design a programme for improvement of playparks within each ward across Highland.
There are differences between areas in terms of the number of playparks, the condition, and future requirements. Members have identified the playparks in their areas that will be invested in going forward.
The Amenities team has also developed a web page to support partnership working with local communities by signposting them to funding opportunities, such as the National Lottery, and advising them on suitable equipment choices, site layout and inclusive provisions for playparks.
Chair of the Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Graham MacKenzie, said: "The challenges facing council budgets are well-documented and we do recognise the importance of play and playparks for children, in terms of the benefits they provide to their physical and mental health.
"In addition to the funding we have available we will support, encourage, and work with communities that wish to fundraise to upgrade and enhance their parks. We will look to increase sponsorship and advertising opportunities and continue to investigate additional funding channels going forward."
The Playpark Strategy and Action Plan for 2023-2033 can be found at Item 9 of the report to today’s committee.