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PLAY PARK: Rainbow swings & lighthouse slide idea for seaside play park

PLAY PARK: Rainbow swings & lighthouse slide idea for seaside play park

Image from Creo Comms

Rainbow swings and a lighthouse slide are among the creative ideas that are shaping plans for a seaside play park, thanks to the imagination of the city’s schoolchildren.

Sunderland City Council has been working with children from Seaburn Dene Primary School to come up with original ideas for a new public play park that will be developed in early 2022. The plans will see a range of play equipment – inspired by the children’s designs – installed at Cut Throat Dene, close to Martinos.

The local authority set a challenge to the city’s school children last year, to come up with imaginative suggestions that would create a stand-out play park for families to make use of. Children have been working on designs and entries came back last month, with a number of children from reception through to year 6 presenting proposals from their students. Among the standout design was a 3D model, created by brother and sister Sophia and Henry
Nixon. Sophie, who is nine, and Henry who is four, created a pop-up model, that featured a zip wire, a netted climbing area and a lighthouse slide that would provide views out to sea from the top.

The Nixons who are from Seaburn, were chosen as the overall winners of the competition, with one winner and one highly commended entry also selected from key stage one and two entrants. The schools competition was suggested by Dynamic City Cabinet Member at Sunderland City Council, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, with the council then holding a virtual session with students to explain what they were looking for and to talk more about the plans for the seaside.
Cllr Atkinson said: “We’re a listening council, and what better way of creating an engaging, exciting play park for our young people than to involve them in its design? We had some incredible entries, which I think show the creativity and skill of our young people, and there were so many merits to all of the ideas that we’re keen to explore how we can feed them all into our final plans for the park. We’re looking forward to seeing the plans realised.”

Some students have been working on their designs during school and some at home, with some carried out research, looking at other play parks and drawing inspiration for their own designs. Cllr Atkinson added: “The effort the young people have gone to is absolutely remarkable. We saw model ships and lots of nautical designs inspiring the designs which is a lovely way to celebrate our city by the sea.”

John Howe, headteacher of Seaburn Dene Primary School, said: “All the children demonstrated incredible creativity and imagination. It’s so important that they have a say in the future of our community and by producing some amazing designs they are doing just that, not only now but for future generations.”

The ideas will be used to develop more detailed designs for the park, which will be unveiled later this year. It is planned that work will commence at the beginning of 2022, with a view to having the park completed by summer. It is part of a wider programme of work to regenerate Seaburn, which has included the development of Stack Seaburn which will reopen in April. The Seaburn Inn, a 40-bed inn with rooms, will open in June and more leisure venues are set to take shape along the city’s coastline, with an £820,000 investment to regenerate under-used and historic
buildings along the Seaburn and Roker promenade. Plans will see a former toilet block at Roker, along with the former Bay Shelter and the old tram shelter at Seaburn, transformed into cafés and restaurants, and plans are also in place for 12 beach huts, that will stand just north of House of Zen. There will also be upgrades to the infrastructure of Seaburn Camp. The investment is all part of a vision to establish Sunderland as a healthy, vibrant, dynamic smart city that attracts people to live, work and play.


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