WINDY conditions and muddy ground didn’t stop families from enjoying the recent official opening of a new adventure play area in Botley on Saturday 26, January.

Local young people, parents and councillors gathered at Louie Memorial Playing Fields to mark the installation of a 40m zip wire, two large swings, and an in-ground trampoline in the ‘upper’ playing field next to Matthew Arnold School.

The new play area is the first phase of a larger £1.2m project by North Hinksey Parish Council to improve facilities at the playing fields.

The zip wire was opened in spectacular fashion by nine-year-old Amila Keily who crashed through the yellow ribbon to declare the equipment ready for use.

She was cheered on by friends, parents, parish councillors Caroline Potter and David Kay, district councillor Emily Smith and county councillor Judy Roberts.

Following the opening of the new adventure play area, the council said it will now be seeking planning permission for a new multi-use community building to replace the outdated Louie Memorial Pavilion.

While in the longer onger-term, provision of a new skate park and upgrades to the sports pitch are also being considered.

Chair of the parish council’s Recreation & Amenities Committee, Caroline Potter, said the improvements were long overdue.

She said: “Parish councillors and local residents have been aware that we needed better facilities for older children and teenagers since the old skatebowl was condemned in 2009.

“We ran workshops and a survey with local young people who told us what they wanted.

“Feedback on the new equipment has been fantastic so far, and we are thrilled to finally deliver it after many years of effort from across the community.”

The popular skate park at the Louie Memorial Playing Fields was destroyed in 2009 after a gang of thieves drove a car onto the site and set it alight.

The Botley Bowl gained legendary status among the skating community having been designed by two Oxford skating champions in 1991, costing £6,000 to build.

Since then, and until the play equipment was installed, Botley had been left with a giant hole and few leisure facilities to offer to youngsters.

The play equipment was funded through developer contributions, while it is hoped that much of the wider scheme will be funded by some of the £12.4million received by the Vale of White Horse District Council for the sale of the West Way shopping centre.

Later this month North Hinksey Parish Council will be running public drop-in sessions in for residents to comment on the plans for the new pavilion building.

It is hoped that the new building could be open for use by local youth organisations, sports teams and other community users of the Louie Memorial Playing Fields in 2020.