Hundreds of children and families flocked to a major new play area with state-of-the-art interactive equipment when it opened at Cantley Park in Wokingham town.
The sun shone as the £450,000 facility, which is expected to attract visitors from across the borough, opened to the public for the first time on Friday afternoon (18 March).
Children of all ages were thrilled to discover and explore the equipment, which is laid out in zones for different age groups including teenagers and has wheelchair-accessible kit to allow everyone to play together.
The excitement was captured on video by Wokingham Borough Council, which designed it in partnership with award-winning suppliers Jupiter Play & Leisure. Jupiter Play & Leisure are the distributors of the unique Yalp Interactive range.
The play area has been designed to be inclusive for the whole community and includes rope structures, climbing blocks, slides and a great variety of swinging equipment. There are 4 key interactive play elements including a DJ booth, a football wall which allows you to collect scores, interactive play pillars and a "dance arch" which suggests dance moves through built in speakers.
These have been specially designed to be as engaging as video games - but without time spent on the sofa.
Michael Hoenigmann, the managing director of Jupiter Play & Leisure, was among the guests at the launch and praised it as "the UK's most interactive playground".
Mr Hoenigmann said: "What's really interesting about this is that we're taking new technologies and outdoor play and putting them together into experiences that children love.
"You can see by the attendance here and the smiles on the kids' faces just how excited they are - it's more like a fairground than a playground.
"There are some new experiences for all the local children which are also new to the UK playground market, and everyone from zero to 80 can benefit."
The new destination playground replaces the old equipment near the park’s tennis courts and complements the park’s range of other sport and leisure facilities.
It was fully funded by contributions from developers building new homes in the area, which they are required to provide to improve play areas and parks for new residents and the wider community.
It follows the opening of another major play area at California Country Park, near Finchampstead, in April last year. There are two other destination play areas, at Elms Field in Wokingham town and Dinton Pastures Country Park near Winnersh.
Cllr Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure, also attended the launch. He said: "There's already loads for families to enjoy at Cantley Park and we're delighted to add to this with a play area that all ages enjoy, which is very important to us.
"It's such a pleasure to be able to watch it being used for the first time. Everyone here is really enjoying themselves and it's been worth the wait, so please do come down and give it a whirl."
Cantley Park has received a further £1.6million in investment from the council to improve its facilities, inlcuding a new floodlit artificial sports pitch which opened last autumn thanks also to a £616,619 grant from the Premier League, The FA, and the Government’s Football Foundation.
It has a refurbished sports pavilion with new changing facilities, a viewing balcony and a café which hosts regular events. There is also a small auditorium which hosts community productions and drama workshops.
The park is well-served for those wanting to walk or cycle there and lies on one of the council’s new greenways, which are generally traffic-free routes connecting key destinations around the borough.
A section of greenway through the park was completed last year and, subject to public consultation, this will eventually link to the major new community at Arborfield Green via Woosehill when complete.
For the latest updates on open spaces and other leisure facilities across the borough, as well as information about upcoming events, residents can sign up to the council’s Wokingham Borough Connect newsletters.
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