The council has sat on hundreds of thousands of pounds set aside to upgrade playgrounds in the north of the borough for over a year.
The money was sourced for the regeneration of three playgrounds in January for Grangewood Park: Northwood Road and New Addington Park from S106 planning agreements. In March Grangewood Park users were told the council had raised £275,000 for these three sites but was working on securing additional funding for two other sites before progressing to the procurement and programme of works which was forecasted to start in September.
According to the S106 Approved Expenditure Tracker on the council’s web site in January 2019 the council secured £99,475 in S106 from the Altitude 25 development for Grangewood and £77,730 from multiple bids for Northwood Road playground which was in such a state of disrepair that it has been closed.
Altitude 25 is an apartment building on Fairfield Road which is Croydon’s second tallest building after Saffron Square Tower.
Now the council says that the Playground Capital Investment Programme is expecting to go out to tender in December, with the aim of the installation of the new playground to be completed before the Summer holidays in July 2020. There has been no explanation for the delay.
Residents have also been complaining about broken play equipment in Thornton Heath Rec playground which the council say its is getting quotes for repairs.
In 2007 – a scrutiny investigation on playgrounds in Croydon revealed a report from RoSPA identified that much of the Council’s play equipment was suffering from major wear and tear, had a limited life expectancy, diminished play value and was increasingly attracting vandalism. A £900,000 fund was earmarked over two years to refurbish playgrounds with a recommendation that the Cabinet Member for Culture and Sport be presented with monthly reports of repairs outstanding and complaints in order for equipment to be made good without delay. It also recommended the Sports, Parks and Recreation team should explore ways of reducing the long lead time between the design and development of a playground scheme and installation of equipment, which doesn’t appear to have happened in this case.