"Layout will change" for controversial Wimbledon playground, say council

Merton Council has said a Wimbledon playground criticised by parents will be larger and have a new layout by the time it is completed.

Parents have criticised the new playground in Dundonald Recreation Ground in Wimbledon for having a poor layout and lacking features with wheelchair access.

Concerns raised included the positioning of the swings in the middle, where small children would be running, and a lack of wheelchair-accessible equipment.

The playground was opened at the end of March as part of a development project involving the expansion of Dundonald Primary School. This is currently being investigated by a parliamentary ombudsman after concerns were raised about Sport England's role in supporting the development.

Merton Council director for environment and regeneration Chris Lee said: "We were keen to ensure there was a playground available as soon as possible for the holidays and it has been great to see how popular it has been with so many children and parents enjoying the new space.

"Once the work in the rec is completed, we will have increased the size of the play area by another third and therefore the layout will change again. We were careful to ensure that the design was ROSPA approved, but also listened to the views of some of the playground users and will take them into consideration as part of the wider playground design already planned. For the short term we are working on relocating the swings within the playground."

The total cost of the development was £467,000, of which the playground was a "small portion", according to the council. A council spokeswoman said the playground development was "part of a tender submitted on a much larger package of works" including new tennis courts and all the site set-up works for a major construction project that includes the school expansion. She said the works were competitively tendered "using recommended best practice to achieve best value".

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