An incredible set of play equipment is nearly ready to open in Poundbury finishing £1m-worth of facilities that will make the Great Field the envy of the world.
There’s now something for all ages at the park, with facilities for teenagers, adults, toddlers and pensioners now in place, with a café and public toilets to enable people to enjoy hours there.
The jewel in the crown, however, is a stunning set of play equipment for younger children modelled on three of Poundbury’s landmark buildings – the Buttermarket, the Brownsword Hall and the Whistling Witch.
The structure is currently behind a steel fence, however it is hoped to be open by Easter, when families will descend on the Great Field for a free fun day, including an Easter egg hunt, bonnet competition and even the chance to win a prize for the best dressed dog.
The organisers behind the event are the charity who run the café. The Alcohol Education Trust run PIPs in the heart of the park.
Its CEO Helena Conibear said: “The play park is pretty much ready and looks absolutely fantastic.
“It’s going to be amazing for children, there’s even a wet water play area where they can pump water over stones. There are rope walkways between all the towers. It’s been built to only accommodate children, but my staff and I are none of us very tall so we’re determined to give it a go…”
The play equipment is the finishing touch to a project that has taken years to complete.
Some 500 trees have been planted, alongside wildflower meadows, and there’s gym equipment here for adults, a multi-use sports court for teenagers and a fresh water drinking fountain.
Helena said: “The playground brings the whole great field to conclusion – it’s wonderful. The Duchy has spent close to £1m on the whole Great Field, including some wonderful paths going right round the field.
“The Duchy and the town council held very good consultations with residents and then worked hard to fulfil their expectations, making sure young people were involved in the design.
“I hope residents realise how lucky they are, having all these fantastic facilities free to use.
“There’s always something going on here – exercise classes, the Parkrun on Saturday mornings and a junior Parkrun is starting on Sunday mornings.”
PIPS also runs a community room for events, where there will be free craft activities for children during the Easter weekend, along with the bonnet and doggy dress-up competitions.
World-renowned firms Timberplay and Creating Adventurous Places Ltd (Capco) worked together for the first time, creating the design based on a wishlist drawn up after consultations with residents. Timberplay has worked all over the world after launching in 2001 and creating the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington.
Timberplay supplied some of their standard equipment and Capco was brought in to create the bespoke elements.
Capco design manager Paul Travers said: “It was a good collaborative experience working with Timberplay. We designed the main structures and layout. We don’t usually work with other manufacturers, but we found them easy to work with, very responsive.
“A couple of months ago we got to meet HRH, but it wasn’t finished then and it will be great to see it open at the heart of the community.”
A spokesman for the Duchy said: “The Great Field forms an integral element of the Poundbury design. As an urban extension of Dorchester, the facility has been carefully positioned to be accessible for residents of both Poundbury and longer established parts of Dorchester.