A highly anticipated nature-friendly play park has officially opened in Chippenham Fields in Monmouth, providing a new accessible and safe place for families to enjoy.

The new play park officially opened on Monday 25th of October with a special ceremony at the site. It follows years of hard work and planning by Monmouthshire County Council and partners to develop a new and appropriate location. The play area has been designed and installed as part of the council’s move away from traditional metal equipment to the use of more natural products made from sustainable hardwoods, and a greater proportion of inclusive equipment for children with disabilities and other support needs. The playground is now situated in a much more central position, which makes it more accessible and a safer place for children to play.

The official opening was marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by families and children, Monmouthshire cabinet members, Monmouthshire County Council Chairman, representatives from the Monmouth Rotary Club and members from Friends of Chippenham Mead group. The official opening gave families a first chance look at the new site and the opportunity to try the equipment.

The process for establishing the play area on Chippenham Mead started back in 2014 when the council was allocated Section 106 funding of £85,000 to renovate the existing play area on the green, or to relocate it to another position. Initially, the council was looking to refurbish the play area in its existing location next to the A40 dual carriageway but following extensive representations by a wide range of local people and the Friends of Chippenham Mead, the council’s Cabinet decided to relocate the play area to its new position away from the noise and traffic fumes generated by vehicles using the adjoining main road.

Despite the project being many years in the making, and while permission and consents were were obtained, the council were able to draw in additional S106 funding and generous grants from Monmouth Town Council and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The expected total cost of the works will be £156,000. This includes provision for the eventual reinstating of the old play area to its natural state as part of the green.

Speaking at the official opening, cabinet member for open spaces, Councillor Jane Pratt said: “This new playground follows years of extensive work by Monmouthshire County Council and partners and is a testament to our commitment to providing inclusive spaces that everyone can enjoy. It’s been wonderful seeing families and children enjoy the new equipment today. It’s an area that not only provides a fun place to visit but the wooden play equipment fits perfectly with the environment while encouraging play through the exploration of nature.”

Adding further comments, Councillor Lisa Dymock, Cabinet Member Community Wellbeing and Social Justice said: “Providing our communities with spaces just like this is important in helping our children learn through play and sparking their adventurous sides. This space has been carefully crafted to ensure the needs of all residents, no matter their ability, can be met. I would like to thank Monmouth Town Council, Friends of Chippenham Mead, the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the general public for their continued support throughout the process.”

In addition to the renewal of the Chippenham play area, this year the council will renew the play areas at King’s Fee, Goldwire Lane and Hendre Close and will also be undertaking extensive works to many of the smaller play areas on the Rockfield Estate to create a number of community nature spaces, which include new landscape features and some wild play elements.

When all these works have been completed, the council will have spent over £420,000 on the various fixed play sites in Monmouth in the 2021/22 financial year.