First look at new Welwyn Garden City Splashlands plans, pics and video
PUBLISHED: 14:02 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:24 06 March 2019
supplied by Welwyn Hatfield Council
It's been a long wait, but Welwyn Hatfield council has finally revealed the £2.2million plans for the new Splashlands, hoping to have it up and running in time for Welwyn Garden City's centenary.
The plans for the north side of Stanborough Park include play areas with all ages and abilities in mind, including an adventure play pirate ship, an outdoor gym and sports pitch, and, of course, the splash park itself.
The refurbishment of the toilet block and a new kiosk will enhance existing facilities, with the current play area being replaced with an assortment of seating and picnic spaces, all preserving the riverside open green space.
Making use of the existing water infrastructure still underground, the splash park will have a paddling ‘river’ running through three splashpad zones, each with different water jet heights and features designed for a mix of ages.
Landscaped grassy mounds will edge the splash area for people to picnic and sit back on.
While the park itself won’t be ready until 2020, the council has promised that the toilet block will be refurbished by this summer.
The plans were put on display to the public at Humphrey’s café at Campus West in WGC over the weekend.
Councillor Terry Mitchinson, who attended along with council officers to respond to public questions, thanked the people who came along for their feedback.
“We had a busy couple of days,” he said.
“It’s a complicated site to develop and we are positive that these plans best respond to these challenges.
“We also received some constructive feedback, which we will be taking on board to help us refine our designs.”
“[The plans have] delivered what we set out [to deliver] and what we promised.
“It’s going to be be available for families and all ages and adults as well.
“It’s a wide range of activities the key thing is the facility will be free for all.
“It’s also in keeping with the natural surroundings - it ticks all the boxes.”
Liberal Democrat councillor for Peartree Malcolm Cowan said the scheme is “fine as it goes”, but added: “It’s taken 20 years since the swimming pool and the play facility were closed.
“That’s a long time to wait - it’s a whole generation.
“It’s long overdue.”
The original Splashlands was closed in 1999 due to land stabilisation issues, and calls for its replacement have stretched back over at least a decade.
The council has tantalised the town more than once with splash park plans over the years.
In April 2009, council ambitions to have one of the biggest water parks in the country were deemed to be unaffordable.
In 2010, the council took another stab at the problem and displayed plans for a high ropes attraction, a wet play area, an education room and various other facilities, described by council leader John Dean as “exciting”.
In 2013, a £2.7million proposed revamp including an adventure course and a wet play area, was also described by Cllr Tony Kingsbury as “exciting”.
The £477,000 high ropes course got the go-ahead that year, but was closed before its official opening after a woman suffered serious pelvic injuries in an accident there.
The ensuing debacle mothballed the high ropes site until 2016, when it was conquered by adventurous Mayor Patricia Mabbott as part of its opening.
But people still clamoured for a splash park and by 2017, numerous campaigns had taken place.
Several petitions got under way, including one started by a 12-year-old boy that drew over 1,500 signatures.
In summer last year the WHT revealed that between 2007 and mid-2018, the council spent £55,000 investigating the scheme.
Speaking after the most recent display, Cllr Cowan also called for the plans to include swimming pool, as featured in the original Splashlands.
“I’m told it’s the largest town in Britain without a swimming pool,” he said.
Cllr Mitchinson called the comment “disingenuous” and responded: “A swimming pool has never been part of the project, the park is what we consulted on.
“We said we were going to do a splash park and that’s what we’re going to deliver ... I think we should be much more positive.
“We’re going to give the people of Welwyn Hatfield a magnificent facility.”
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