CHILDREN will whoosh along a zip wire and clamber through a makeshift abbey after a riverside playground gets revamped.

Images released mirror the 'new lease of life' councillors hope to inject into Abbey Meadow in Abingdon, with ambitions to transform it into 'one of the best play areas in Oxfordshire'.

The tired facility next to the River Thames is up for a £320,000 overhaul by Vale of White Horse District Council including a sensory area, slide, trampoline and monkey bars.

In the centre will be a replica of the ancient Abingdon Abbey with climbing towers, wobbly bridges and climbing nets, next to a boat structure and a miniature Abingdon Lock.

Cabinet member for leisure Charlotte Dickson said: "I'm delighted we've agreed this major investment. The new play area, along with the other improvements we'll be making, will really help to give this much loved area a new lease of life."

Leader of the council Matthew Barber admitted it was 'about time' the council invested in Abbey Meadow.

He said: "It's a significant sum of money – it's a really good facility not just for Abingdon but for the whole district.

"The designs for the new park look fantastic, brilliantly capturing the famous abbey and riverside location. Our aim is to create one of the best play areas in Oxfordshire."

Abingdon resident Naomi Richardson, a long-time campaigner for Abbey Meadow, said: "It is great that there will at last be a sensory play area in Abingdon, however there probably needs to be some more sensory play items in there and not just plants. Abingdon is very poorly served for integrated play and we have a special needs school in the town."

She feared it could 'feel quite cramped and busy in summer' as it is not extending into space that will stay as the pitch and putt.

Mrs Richardson added: "As Abingdon is set to grow by quite a considerable amount, it would seem sensible to plan for greater numbers and spread the park over a greater area."

She said the park will suit children up to about 10 better than current equipment which she said children are outgrowing by the age of six, but highlighted 'an obvious lack of challenging play' and 'no opportunities for a bit of risk and peril'.

The park will feature an aerial seesaw and will keep the much-loved rocking horse, and is part of a wider £615,000 improvement project to Abbey Meadow that will also see new toilets, fences and changing facilities.

Alongside this the council has set aside £1m to refurbish the outdoor pool.

Work is expected to begin in January with the park opening in late spring or early summer.