FAMILIES in a Hampshire town are celebrating the opening of a new-look play park costing almost £100,000.

The “much improved” facility in Doe Copse Way, New Milton, was opened by the town mayor, Cllr David Rice-Mundy, in a ceremony attended by a large number of youngsters.

He said: “We’re very proud of our latest play park and look forward to seeing children spending many happy hours having fun and enjoying outdoor exercise.”

The £93,000 facility aims to meet a recognised shortfall by providing a bigger play space full of equipment suitable for children aged up to ten.

The site also complies with current planning policy by ensuring the equipment is accessible to disabled children and their carers.

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Cllr Geoff Blunden, chairman of the town council’s amenities committee, said: “I’m delighted to report that the project was funded entirely by developers’ contributions and not by the local ratepayer. Our precept is unaffected, which is very good news for our local residents.

Guidance suggested the site would be a suitable location for a Locally Equipped Area for Play (LEAP), which are aimed at children who can play independently within a five-minute walk from home.

He added: “Most children can access the site without crossing highly-trafficked roads, utilising the extensive network of footpath and cycling routes.”

The spokesman said the site was near housing – something which had been shown to reduce the potential for anti-social behaviour as well as making children feel safe.

He added: “There’s a good body of evidence to suggest children who have opportunities to play in a natural environment have the ability to increase their attention span, reduce depression and lower the symptoms of attention deficit disorders.

“However, our natural response to our environment simply reinforces that we enjoy being in green spaces.”