New fort design revealed

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THIS is how the new Valley Gardens playground will look when it re-opens around Easter time.

The £50,000 project, being made by contractor Eibe, will replace the previous ‘fort’, which was destroyed in a suspected arson attack in October.

It will have a wobble bridge, climbing walls, monkey bars, rope bridges and that all-important slide.

The play area will be closed during building work, which is expected to start in mid-February.

When Harrogate Council revealed the winning design on Tuesday, the Advertiser asked Twitter users for their views - and the response was very enthusiastic.

Janet Holstead (@janetleedsrhino) said: “Looks fantastic, I am sure the kids will love it just as much as the old one!”, while Simon Aitchison (@OriginalAitchy) said it looked good and he hoped it would be ready for summer.

But there was concern among residents that the development could again be susceptible to vandalism.

Alison (@alithecakelady) said while the design was “very nice”, it would need to be fireproof, as “you can’t ban idiots, unfortunately”.

Monika Slater (@monikaslater) said it was a shame the new-look playground was so open. “It was nice for the kids to have a den in the old castle,” she said.

Parents and children were given the chance to choose between three schemes, with Eibe’s design preferred to those put forward by Image Playgrounds and Timberplay.

Positive comments included: “The climbing wall is great, it’s got a variety of equipment”, “It looks better and funner than the rest”, “It has lots to go on, it is aimed at both age groups - young and old children”, “It has more activities on it” and, simply, “Awesome”.

The project has been largely funded by the insurance for the destroyed fort, with the Friends of the Valley Gardens paying the excess.

Coun Caroline Bayliss, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “I am so pleased that we are going to be able to fully replace the fort.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the Menwith Hill Community Heart Beat fund which contributed £2,000 via the Friends of the Valley Gardens to help plug the small funding gap.”

She said that depending on the weather, work was expected to start in mid-February, with the fort hopefully open in time for the Easter holidays.

“This is a major piece of work and for safety reasons we will have to close the play area once work starts,” she said.

“Unfortunately, this means that the play area will be closed over the February half-term which is a shame but really can’t be avoided if we are to have it ready for Easter.

“I am so looking forward to seeing children enjoying the replacement fort. I am sure this new one is going to prove just as popular with them and their parents.”