Play areas

Play area upgrades

If you are a community group and you wish to commence an upgrade to an existing Council play area, please follow our Play Area Upgrades Flowchart and view the Upgrading a Playpark - How to Guide for an overview of the whole process from identifying a play area to be upgraded to opening the upgraded play area.

Play Area upgrade flowchart

Upgrading a Playpark - How to Guide

Council Amenity Officers can support groups with issues such as current equipment’s sustainability and maintenance requirements, issues with surfacing in the current facility, options available for upgrading the site, taking account of inclusivity and accessibility of the equipment and location, and providing a copy of the relevant information from the annual inspection report.

We also have Play Technicians who can provide the Group with advice on the best equipment to purchase which will be long lasting, inclusive, offer good play value and doesn’t require a lot of ongoing maintenance. They will also be able to advise on layout and design of the site and essential Health and Safety requirements. As there is only a limited level of funding available for ongoing maintenance it is strongly advised to look at simple equipment with limited moving parts as this sort of equipment is likely to last longer and be more durable and sustainable.

When deciding on a budget for the upgrade’s community groups should consider everything, equipment, surfacing, fencing, bins, benches, signage, post installation inspection etc. You may also need to consider community engagement and the ongoing maintenance budget required to keep the play area open and in use, for example some surfacing options are more cost effective and sustainable then others, play chip/bark for example needs regularly topped up, whereas grass matting can provide a more sustainable surface with little ongoing maintenance costs.

For information on who can provide funding to the community group please see the list of potential funders. There may also be access to local wind farm funding depending on location.

Play Area funders

The Council has very limited funding provision, depending on your project there may be funding available from Councillors through their ward discretionary or other ward-based funds, please check with Ward Managers.

The Council can offer support and provide guidance through the process and assist in identifying suitable equipment to install we can also provide a list of approved suppliers.

Play Area suppliers

There are many local user groups you may wish to consider consulting with prior to deciding on your final design, for example, local schools, local youth groups, parent and toddler groups, play groups, residents’ associations and community councils. Local Members can also help and identify local groups.

Planning permission is not required on the basis it is a Council development on Council land, refurbishment of existing play park.

To purchase the equipment, the Community Group must confirm their order to Highland Council for all equipment, surfacing etc requested for the play area. The Council re-charge the costs to the Community Group by invoice and then once the funds are received the Council will place the order.

A post installation inspection will be required to be carried out after the upgrade is complete, the Highland Councils Senior Play Technician will do the final post installation inspection to ensure it has been constructed to adoptable standards before site is handed back to the Council to maintain. Please include the cost of the fee for this inspection in your funding applications to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover this. An estimate of the fee can be provided by the Technician.

Findings from the post installation inspection will be reported back to the installer and must be rectified before final payment is made. Another inspection on the remedial works will then be carried out after any snagging has been addressed by the installer.

All future maintenance and inspections will be carried out by the Council once the upgraded play area is installed.

Only cost-effective repairs and not full replacement of damaged items will be covered by the Council and required maintenance or replacement will be subject to budget availability.

Current play areas are covered by the Highland Councils insurance. This would continue to be the case prior to any works commencing and would continue after the works have been completed. The play installation company would be liable for insurance whilst upgrading the play park.

Any existing play areas owned by the Highland Council do not have a charge for the annual inspections.