‘Estate’s new play park should be completed this summer’

Lorraine Wright and her son Corey (6) with local children on the site of the former Rushpark play area which was removed by the council. INNT 14-416-RM  Pic by Ronnie Moore
Lorraine Wright and her son Corey (6) with local children on the site of the former Rushpark play area which was removed by the council. INNT 14-416-RM Pic by Ronnie Moore
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NEWTOWNABBEY Borough Council has confirmed that a new state-of-the-art children’s play area should open in Rushpark within the next few months.

The local authority was responding to criticism from local residents, who have accused the council of being “sneaky and underhanded” in removing the existing children’s play area from the estate.

The site was recently sold off by the council to Apex Housing Association for a social housing project. And despite promises to local residents that a new play area would be built in the estate before the old one was removed, workmen moved in last week to dismantle the play park - despite the fact that the new play area is still at the planning stage.

Woodland Drive resident Mark McGookin, who has two sons aged seven and four, says local people feel like they’ve been lied to by the council.

“The park is the only thing around here for kids and now the council has gone and closed it a week before the Easter holidays,” he told the Times. “Our nearest play park is now at Hazelbank, but the road between here and Hazelbank is a death trap.

“When the council came round people’s doors about two years ago to tell them about the plan to sell off the land for new housing we were assured that a new play park would be up and running at a new location within the estate before the old one was taken away.

“The contractors moved in last week and started to remove the play park, but apparently the contract for building the new play park hasn’t even been put out to tender yet.

“It’s completely ridiculous and out of order. People can’t believe the sneaky and underhanded way this has been done.”

Responding to the criticism, a council spokesperson said that removal of the play equipment was unavoidable due to “public liability issues” as contractors working for Apex Housing Association needed access to the site. And she confirmed that following a planning delay due to issues surrounding the residents’ preferred location for the new play park, an application has now been submitted for its development on a council-owned site within the estate.

Read the full story in this week’s Times...