Date of ‘amazing’ Splashlands opening finally here

PUBLISHED: 12:39 27 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:29 28 July 2020

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

Kevin Lines Photography

After years of wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, WGC’s Splashlands at Stanborough Park will definitely open this week.

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin LinesSplashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

Local children, who have already been invited down to run through the 65 water jets on the free wet and dry adventure and play facility, have said it is nothing short of “amazing” and just “woweeee”.

The new facility centres around the 600m² splashpad water play area near the north car park and is surrounded by a nautical-themed adventure playground, featuring a large pirate ship and a variety of play equipment for toddlers, families and older kids, including swings for disabled children.

Pioneering twins, Riku and Kai, agreed: “The water is everywhere and it’s so much fun. I kind of like the big one as you run into it and it’s fun.”

It also features a small river through all the water jets, which can fill up so it turns into a little splash pool but is not deep enough to create any safety risk. Areas for shade and children’s parties are also incorporated into the play area.

The opening of the old Lido as covered in the Welwyn Times, which later became the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Picture: Kevin LinesThe opening of the old Lido as covered in the Welwyn Times, which later became the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Picture: Kevin Lines

In addition, there is a new café kiosk and a changing room unit, and walking around the surrounding facility you can see there has been a lot of change with picnic benches replacing the old play area and leading naturally down to the riverbank.

A circle design has been used to mirror the Garden City concept, put forward by WGC founder Ebenezer Howard, which celebrates its centenary in the town this year.

Aside from an area for families and children, there is an outdoor gym located outside the Vertigo Adventures that can be used all year round and has an app available to show you how to use the equipment. Space has also been set aside for a kick-about and a basketball net.

After years of trying to get Splashlands built with new plans and different ambitions put forward since 2007, the final culmination of the council’s work is a relief to many and has not been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Former Splashlands siteFormer Splashlands site

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Terry Mitchinson, executive member for leisure, culture and communications, said: “Obviously you plan in the hope that you can open after people have had such a long wait to see Splashlands come to fruition.

“Thursday marks a very special day. Residents have waited a long time for this and we know how much it means to families.

“We would not be opening it if we though we couldn’t do it safely. GLL are there to ensure the safety of the facility. The numbers will be strictly managed [at 130].

“You need to rely on families being sensible but I’m sure they will do that.”

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin LinesSplashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

The council promised a Splashlands this summer when the final plans were given the go-ahead in 2019, and has delivered on its promise.

The old Splashlands closed in 1999 due to high running costs and subsidence issues and has been greatly missed over the years – with WGC children left with nowhere in the town to go for a dip.

Cllr Mitchinson said: “Its not replacing the old Lido, nothing could replace that, but its what people asked for [..] and its more aimed at young families and all that.

“It’s what it says on the tin. It’s a splash park.”

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin LinesSplashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

There are still plenty of swimming locations in Hatfield, including at the University of Hertfordshire, the David Lloyd gym and Hatfield Swim Centre.

Attempts to get Splashlands up and running as a place to cool down during the summer have been put forward on many occasions.

Firstly, turning the old lido site into one of the biggest waterparks in the country was deemed unaffordable in 2009.

Then, the council showcased more plans for a wet play area with sunken barge, water pumps, a sun terrace and a giant waterslide, which the council hoped to have open by 2012.

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin LinesSplashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

But the High Ropes course put paid to those ambitions as in June 2013, after a preview event, a woman fell from the course.

Despite all these bumps along the way, the council remained committed to getting a Splashlands built and in 2017 when Bailey Nash, who was 12 at the time, started a petition to bring a splash park to WGC, he attracted nearly 1,500 signatures.

Then in March 2019, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council finally revealed the plans we now have – after a consultation with residents demonstrating that a splash park was the most popular idea.

Leader of the council, councillor Tony Kingsbury, said: “After months of planning, it’s fantastic to see Splashlands ready on time and within budget. To open this free landmark leisure facility in Welwyn Garden City’s centenary year, makes it a particularly special moment in the history of our borough and underlines our continued commitment to ensure Welwyn Hatfield is a great place to live, work and play both now and for future generations.”

Splashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin LinesSplashlands arrives at Stanborough in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Kevin Lines

Splashlands will be open daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm, or dusk if earlier. Weather permitting, the splashpad will be open next year from Good Friday to the last Sunday in September. The outdoor gym and pitch will remain open all year round.

If you are heading down to the new park this week, which will open on Thursday, tell us your review or if you have any old memories of the lido let us know here: news@whtimes.co.uk.

All political parties turn out for the socially distanced pre-opening. Picture: Kevin LinesAll political parties turn out for the socially distanced pre-opening. Picture: Kevin Lines


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