by Ian Smith
plans to replace Spittal’s paddling pool with a splash park are set to go ahead this spring after major funding was secured.
Spittal Improvement Trust has been awarded a £50,000 grant from Community Spaces, the lottery funded organisation.
Mike Greener, trust secretary, said: “It’s great news for Spittal and the wider community of Berwick which relies heavily on visitors. We think the splash park will be a big pull to bring tourists into the town, as well as offering an added attraction for those already staying and living here.”
Funding totalling £138,000 is now in place to enable the basic project to begin, although it is hoped this can be topped up to enhance the scheme in due course.
Mr Greener said: “We’ve now got to go through the formal tender process and we hope to have our order placed with the successful company by mid-April.
“They should then be able to start work on site by mid-May before the specialist equipment is installed the following month.
“If all goes to plan we hope to have the works completed by the end of July and then have an official opening at the Spittal Seaside Festival on August 13-14.”
Funders include the Veolia Trust, SITA Trust, Jus-Rol, Berwick Town Council, Northumberland County Council through its community chest scheme and the Community Foundation’s Northern Angel Fund.
“It’s been hard work getting all the grant applications in; some of them are 30 pages long so there’s a lot of paperwork involved, but thankfully we’re now in a position where we can look forward to completing the project,” said Mr Greener.
The town council has already agreed to meet estimated maintenance and water costs of £8000 per year. In due course, it is likely to accept responsibility for other play parks in the town which are currently managed by the county council.
Mr Greener said: “We’re hoping to get volunteers to carry out general health and safety inspections and then go back to Community Spaces to ask for a sustainability grant.
“This would pay for someone to be trained up and who could inspect the other play areas the town council is likely to take responsibility for.”
While the play park was refurbished in 2004, the paddling pool has not been filled for the past two years because of health and safety requirements.
Spittal Improvement Trust initially approached the town council for support in its plans to bring the paddling park back into use last April.
The town council subsequently asked the county council for financial assistance towards the works required. Talks with its regeneration unit resulted in plans for a low maintenance splash park being put together.
It is anticipated that Spittal First School’s design work on the paddling pool will be replicated within the splash park.