The opening of a new inclusive play area and accessible Changing Places facility in Walton-on-the-Naze is enabling children and young people with disabilities to have fun and enjoy the great outdoors.
The new facilities, located at Bath House Meadow in Walton, were officially opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today (Monday, July 2) by Essex County Council’s Vice-Chairman, Councillor Eddie Johnson, and Tendring District Council Chairman, Mark Platt.
Jointly funded by Tendring District Council (TDC) and Essex County Council’s (ECC) Short Breaks for Disabled Children’s capital grant scheme, both facilities were commissioned and managed by TDC’s public realm service.
The project is part of a drive to improve public spaces in Walton and across Tendring in support of the TDC’s regeneration and tourism strategies.
Changing Places facilities are different from standard accessible toilets because they offer more space, specialist equipment and a height-adjustable changing bench and hoist.
Mick Skeels, TDC Cabinet Member for Leisure and Tourism, said the Changing Places facility would benefit both local families and those visiting the area.
“The great thing about Tendring’s tourism offer is that it gives something to everyone, and I am delighted that the expansion of our Changing Places facilities in Walton – coupled with the new play area – means the town is really inclusive to families with disabled children,” he said.
The new location was chosen following consultation with local families who were keen that the facility was near a green space so they can spend more time together outdoors and also have access to the other facilities that Walton offers, including the beach.
Michael Talbot, TDC Cabinet Member for Environment, said the play area had already been well received.
“Although officially opened today, families have already been using the new equipment and so far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
Cllr Dick Madden, ECC Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said “We’re committed to ensuring all young people are able to enjoy the great outdoors and pleased to have worked together with Tendring District Council to make this happen.
“The inclusive play area is located right in the heart of Walton, by the beach and Naze Marine holiday site, which offers short break facilities to Essex families.
“With the two facilities located together, families with disabled children can now travel to Walton with confidence knowing that their needs are met, and therefore enjoy a great day out together.”
Michael Hoenigmann from Jupiter Play and Leisure, the designers of the new play area, said: “We were delighted to be chosen by Essex County Council and Tendring District Council to deliver this prestigious project.
“We worked very closely together to ensure that the needs of the whole community were met and that the play area at Bath House Meadow achieves the PIPA accreditation.
“We are proud to be part of another successful delivery in this really important sector.”
To access the new Changing Places facility, families must register with TDC for a unique key. The key can also be used to access the existing Changing Places sites at Walton, Clacton and Dovercourt sea fronts.