23 July 2013

Level skatepark and kids’ playground open for holidays

The wraps will come off part of The Level this Friday July 26 at 5pm following the restoration of one of Brighton & Hove's major parks.

Specifically, the public will have access to the south end of the park, which includes the children’s play area and the new skatepark.  While the full renovation is not yet complete, the city council is keen to open the key recreational facilities as soon as possible for the school summer holidays.

The project is transforming the city centre park with a package of improvements. When complete these will include the skatepark and children’s playground, plus 'dancing' fountains, a sensory garden, tables for board games and ping pong, a pétanque terrain, and a new environmentally-friendly cafe, complete with a chalk grassland green roof.

Historic features from the early 1920’s have been restored, including the park pavilions which will now be used to provide community rooms and exhibition spaces. Extensive new planting and landscaping have also been carried out and additional seating provided.

A Sussex Police Community Hub will also be available at The Level for a three month trial. Members of the local Neighbourhood Policing Team will be working from the building for part of the day and will always be available between 9am to 10.30am, 12 noon to 1pm and between 4pm and 6pm. Action days and events will also be held at the site over the summer.  
Some parts, such as the new cafe and north lawns, will open later in September. The park’s official Grand Opening Event will take place at the end of September or early October, the date still to be confirmed.  

The restoration project is being carried out by the council with a £2.2m Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund grant.  An Aiming High Grant of £65,000 has also been awarded to help make the park more accessible for all to enjoy.  The skate park also received £150,000 grant funding from Sports England Inspired Facilities and £50,000 from Veolia Environmental Trust.

The playground has many pieces of equipment suitable for children with disabilities.  New public toilets will include wheelchair accessible loos and a Changing Places facility with enough space for disabled people and their carers. Improvements in lighting, CCTV and the presence of a full-time park manager will help to deter antisocial behaviour.

Local people have been involved in the restoration in a variety of ways. Some have shared their pictures and memories for a history project charting their memories of The Level; others have given their ideas for a new piece of artwork in the park or got involved in a new Communities of the Level Forum; and bricklaying students at City College Brighton and Hove have gained practical experience helping to restore a 19th century stone wall.

There are also lots of opportunities to get involved as a volunteer, helping with activities ranging from gardening, wildlife, education and sport to history and heritage.

Councillor Pete West, chair of the city council's Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: "We are really proud of this fantastic new-look park where local people, visitors, and people working in the area can relax and unwind in the heart of the city.

"Previously The Level was tired, underused and in need of investment and many people simply didn't go there. Now it will have something for everyone, it will be an attractive, vibrant and welcoming area and one of the best parks for miles around. It is so important for many people who don't have an open space of their own to have a top quality park to enjoy."

Police Inspector Justin Burtenshaw said: "Working out of hubs in the heart of the community is a fundamental part of the drive to modernise our service. The Police Community Support Officers at the hub can offer advice and support on a range of issues from anti social behaviour to ongoing neighbourhood disputes. I'd encourage people to drop in and meet the team, find out more about the work we are doing and how you can influence local policing priorities. The team are really excited to be part of this project."

For more information visit the city council's website www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/thelevel