FERMANAGH and Omagh District Council has launched an ambitious strategy which will guide the provision, sustainable management and development of local play parks over the next ten years.
The strategy will see an investment of almost £5 million over the next decade to develop, transform and upgrade the council’s play park estate.
Around £4 million has been earmarked for the construction of new facilities and the upgrading of existing play.
A further £1 million will be invested in the management of existing play parks and the development and transformation of others.
Outgoing FODC chair, Diana Armstrong, said, “We recognise that play areas are vital for the physical development of our children as climbing, jumping and running supports health improvements and increased upper and lower-body strength.
“Playgrounds with the right equipment can also help improve balance, agility and coordination.
“Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to improving the wellbeing of our young people and to creating safe, accessible, inclusive, exciting and fun play facilities with additional elements such as the incorporation and integration of ‘green space’ within our play parks.
“The global pandemic has, in my view, more than anything identified the need for every child in our district to have equality of opportunity and access to play facilities.
“In the periods of lockdown, they provided an outlet for children to get out to enjoy exercise in the open air.”
The development of the strategy followed a major review of the council’s existing play facilities and focuses on the play needs of children, teenagers and young adults.
In addition, it also recognises and considers the need of other visitors such as elderly carers, and groups of children or adults with disabilities.
Within the plan is the provision across the district for 97 council-managed play areas. Three of the existing play areas, Gortin Glens, the Grange Park, Omagh and Fermanagh Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen will be designated ‘Destination Play Areas’, while a further six will be designated as “neighbourhood – equipped” play areas, while the remainder will be locally equipped play areas which will all meet the recognised standards for accessibility and inclusivity.