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Investing in the young people of Downham Market through play

The new Howdale Play Area in Downham Market is officially opened by Cllr Graham Middleton and local children.

Published: Friday, 29th July 2022

A £100,000 council-funded scheme to provide a superb new play area on Howdale Park in Downham Market officially opened on Thursday 28 July.

The scheme came about after the council heard that the Friends of Howdale Play Area were looking to fundraise for new and improved equipment.

Cllr Graham Middleton, deputy council leader, said: “Howdale is council land that is used for the benefit of people in Downham Market. When we became aware of what the Friends of Howdale Play Area were trying to do we promptly agreed to support them, and our officers designed and procured the scheme.

“This resulted in us being able to deliver, within a year, a scheme that otherwise would have required several years of ambitious fundraising.

“It’s delivering a free outdoor space for children that is safe and stimulating, which we know is vital for development and wellbeing. It’s also on people’s doorsteps, which means they don’t need to get in the car to enjoy it.

“This is a great example of the council working with local communities to deliver a scheme that will have a range of benefits.”

Cllr Brian Long, cabinet member for corporate services, said: “Downham Market is a growing town and it is right that we should invest in its infrastructure, which includes play equipment.

“We appreciated that Howdale, in particular, would benefit from investment as it is a well-used and well-loved play area within the town.

“Using money from the Community Infrastructure Levy and match funding from the council, we have been able to invest in an excellent scheme that will be a significant asset to local families.

“I am delighted that we have been able to make this project happen and I hope that children in Downham Market will love playing here!”

Cllr Richard Blunt, cabinet member for development and regeneration, said: “CIL funding allows us to deliver a huge variety of schemes that benefit people across the borough.

“These are projects that bring tangible benefits, for example by improving access to services, providing opportunities to be physically active and improving local amenities that support communities.”

Local well-being coach, Frances Rayner, had been working with the local community to get ideas and funding for the site. After hearing more about what she was trying to achieve, the council supported her to apply for £50,000 CIL funding and agreed £50,000 match funding to enable the scheme to go ahead.

Frances said: “I am so grateful to the council for the way in which they have supported our ambition and helped us to create this scheme in such a short space of time. Without their help this would never have happened.

“The community is absolutely thrilled to bits that we have not only been able to get a new play area but it has happened so fast – from my first conversation with the council leader it isn’t even a year.

“Everyone is so excited now that they can see the equipment in place and they can’t wait to play!”

The design includes equipment aimed at a range of ages and includes apparatus suitable for children who need sensory stimulation.

Eight young people from Nelson, Hillcrest and Denver schools, and the Swan Youth Project, helped to open the park.

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