Newmarket's memorial gardens play area to close as part of five month refurbishment project
Newmarket’s memorial gardens play area will close on Monday ready for the start of a refurbishment – costing £464, 943 – which will take five months to complete.
At a special meeting of the town council held on Friday, councillors agreed to a masterplan which will see the popular gardens completely regenerated in time for an official re-opening in April next year.
Cllr Amy Starkey, who has headed up the working group in charge of the project, said: “The gardens are an extremely popular feature of the town but they have fallen into disrepair and major investment is needed. We want to create a public space in the heart of the town that makes Newmarklet a better place to live and visit.”
After consulting with schools, the theme for the refurbishment is castles and royalty and the new equipment installed will include, as a centrepiece, a play castle.
The popular water feature will be renovated and enhanced with water jets controlled by footplates. Other equipment will include a toddler slide, a zip and a cradle swing. Pathways will be resurfaced and the entrance from the High Street given a facelift.
“The cost of play equipment is not cheap and the cost of water features is not cheap,” said Cllr Starkey. “The initial cost was almost double what we have now but we have secured cost savings working with certain suppliers to bring down the cost but we have not comprised on the overall quality of the scheme.”
The project is being funded through council reserves and efficiency savings (£214,233), a public works loan (£180,000), section 106 monies (£25,000), a donation from the Suffolk Community Foundation (£10,000) and £60,000 set aside in the council’s leisure services budget.
Cllr Starkey told the meeting that further funding streams were still being pursued and if more money came forward it would either go straight into the project or be used to reduce the loan.
A detailed tendering process for the project had been undertaken, with advice from the district council, which had seen specialist contractor ProScape awarded the contract.
Newmarket deputy mayor Cllr James Lay, praised the project team for its work. “This will be a great asset to the town,” he said.