New £103,000 high-tech play area at Whittlesey’s Manor Leisure Centre

The 'turf-cutting' ceremony at the Manor Leisure Centre. Pictured in the centre are: Steve Allison, Cllr Peter Murphy, Sarah Gosling and Cllr David Mason
The 'turf-cutting' ceremony at the Manor Leisure Centre. Pictured in the centre are: Steve Allison, Cllr Peter Murphy, Sarah Gosling and Cllr David Mason
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A new high-tech £103,000 play area is being created at the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey.

Electronic play equipment that combines computer gaming with physical exercise will be at the heart of the project with building work starting in late May or early June.

The play area is due to be ready in time for the summer holidays and follows two years of planning and extensive consultation.

District and town councillors joined local residents on Wednesday, March 18 for a turf-cutting ceremony at the site in Station Road.

The three high-tech bits of play kit, called Space, Nova and Rocky, will initially enable individuals and teams to join in up to 10 games with the capacity to add more in the future.

The area will also include more traditional items such as swings, a cable zip wire, climbing wall, ladder and spinner.

Picnic benches and other seats are also among the features.

The whole area will be fenced in and monitored by the existing CCTV camera.

Fenland District Council has put up £20,000 of capital funding with an additional £28,000 to come from Section 106 planning obligations and £10,000 from Whittlesey Town Council.

A grant of £45,000 has been made by WREN, a not-for-profit business which awards money to projects.

The grants are awarded from donations made by landfill operator FCC Environment.

Councillor Peter Murphy, the district council’s cabinet member responsible for open spaces, said: “This is something completely different to anything in our other play areas.

“We’ve worked very closely with the town council and local people to come up with the sort of ultra-modern facilities that they’ve been asking for.

“That enabled us to put in a very strong funding bid to WREN and we’re delighted that they agreed to make such a generous contribution.”

Sarah Gosling, WREN’s grant manager, said: “The application for this project was very strong.

“There was an obvious need for really good play equipment in the area and this scheme is unique – it’s the first time we have funded an electronic play experience in the East of England.”

Those attending Wednesday’s ceremony included Whittlesey Cllr Gary Swan and local resident Tammy Roan, who have been campaigning for a new play park for several years, and town council Mayor Cllr David Mason.

Cllr Swan said: “Whittlesey has been crying out for a really good play park for years and the old one here at the Manor has never had any refurbishment.

“So it’s great to be getting this and we hope it’s something that people will be able to enjoy for years to come.”

Steve Allison, from Kompan, the company providing the electronic equipment, said: “What this innovative approach will do is encourage more young people to be more active by enabling them to interact physically while gaming at the same time. That’s got to be good for their health.

“This is a flagship project for us that we hope will provide a benchmark for future play schemes in the area.”