A major overhaul of play facilities at Lochore Meadows has been given the green light.

Council planners formally approved ambitious plans for the brand new inclusive destination play park on Tuesday – and it is hoped work can be completed on site in the spring.

The much-needed upgrade comes after councillors on the community and housing services sub-committee agreed to invest £500,000 towards the play park replacement, with a further £250,000 earmarked for infrastructure works which will support and complement existing facilities.

Park manager Iain Laing said: “Lochore Meadows will be a destination park, a place where families can spend the whole day without costing the earth, but with plenty to keep everyone occupied.  

“It’s one of the jewels in our crown and we want people to keep coming back.  

“The new playpark will be something special, there won’t be anything like it nearby. 

“We’ve worked closely with the NHS and play park designers to carefully plan and develop a much-improved play area that’s accessible and inclusive.  

“Our play area has always been first class and the current facility has been enjoyed by hundreds of children every day for many years, but this amount of use takes a heavy toll on the equipment.  

“The time has come to refresh the area for the benefit of the next generation of children with a greater emphasis on inclusive play allowing all children to play together as one.” 

The project has drawn on the knowledge and skills of partners in the council, health and third sectors.  

Swings designed to be used by children with disabilities and a sensory tunnel will be amongst a range of new equipment coming to the park, carefully planned to let all children play together in one place.  

New fencing at key locations near the loch and through the wooded area, as well as CCTV, will also help keep visitors safe and a new pathway will connect the play area to the visitor centre, giving easy access to the café and toilet facilities.

Local communities shared their views on the proposed designs when they went on show in the visitor centre during the summer, ahead of being formally submitted at the start of November 2021.

No objections were received during the formal consultation process, although Benarty Community Council commented on the application in respect of parking and possible encroachment from other events on to the play park.

However, Fife Council said the country park’s existing parking was neither proposed to be altered or formed any part of the application and was therefore not a material issue when considering it, adding that event encroachment was also not relevant when assessing the merits of this particular application.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, community and housing services sub-committee convener, said: “Improved facilities for physical activity and sport are a key priority for this administration and, as part of this ongoing commitment, and I am determined that even in these difficult times, we are continuing to ensure the health and wellbeing of our communities. 

“Our investment comes as outdoor venues like Lochore Meadows have enjoyed increased footfall, as Fifers have rediscovered our open spaces during the pandemic.  

“Lochore Meadows saw visitor numbers reach 900,000 over the last year.

“This new play area will enhance the extensive facilities already on offer, which also include a new energy efficient visitor centre, built in 2017, with a café and toilet facilities, golf, mountain bike trails, water sports, woodland walks, a picnic and barbeque area and plenty of wildlife.

“And new visitors were welcomed over the summer as visitors with motorhomes were able to rent a pitch for an overnight stay as they toured through Fife. 

“Lochore Meadows has been enjoyed by generations of Fifers and our commitment to improve the facilities there will ensure that it can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”