Replacement for unsafe East Christchurch playground raises ire

By Georgie Hanafin

A popular East Christchurch playground is being demolished amid safety concerns.

But Coastal Ward community board member Alex Hewison said the proposed replacement was unacceptable, and locals were backing his call.

He had gathered more than 1000 signatures on a petition calling for a most suitable replacement built in consultation with the board and community.

The Thomson Park playground in New Brighton failed a Christchurch City Council safety check in December due to rotting support posts and rusting hardware.

Council officials opted against replicating the existing fort-style playground, instead going for a new plastic play structure instead.

Hewison said the “cookie cutter plans” for replacing the 50-year-old fort were not fit for purpose and would not replace the destination playground which was there.

The council needed to create a larger, custom playground which would reflect the needs of the community, he said.

“Schools, after-school programmes and community groups use this playground all the time, because of its size and the ability to cater for larger groups of children and for adults to play on it with children as well. That’s what we were concerned about losing and that’s what the community has come to me concerned about with this new design.”

Thomson Park

Pulling the structure down as an emergency renewal meant limited funds would be available at short notice to replace it, Hewison said.

Council community parks manager Bridie Gibbings said the council considered the replacement design a “like-for-like renewal, featuring a large modular playground”.

While the footpath would be smaller, the play elements remained largely unchanged, she said.

The replacement was not required to undergo public consultation since it would be replaced in a like-for-like manner, Gibbings said.

But Hewison disagreed.

“The new playground is significantly smaller, saying it is like-for-like is like saying a footpath is the same as a road. The incredible response to my petition shows that the community doesn’t accept it as like-for-like either,” he said.

His petition will be presented to the council on Monday.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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