Roman playpark is part of a march to the future in Kirkintilloch

Play area - Ivanhoe Drive
Play area - Ivanhoe Drive

PLANS to regenerate a Kirkintilloch community are marching on – which will feature a Roman-themed playpark at its heart.

Children from Hillhead and St Flannan’s primary schools joined forces with artist Jennifer Grant to design a play area in Ivanhoe Drive, due to be completed next summer.

The main feature will be the pupil-designed ‘Roman Bridge’ along with other play equipment including a pendulum nest swing, moon walker, slides, mini-towers and low stepping posts.

It is part of a masterplan for the area by Hillhead Housing Association 2000, which was developed with the local community in 2005.

This included the demolition of 180 flatted properties across a number of locations within the area, as well as other redundant buildings.

The cleared sites have allowed the association to redesign the built environment with better quality housing to meet the needs and aspirations of local people.

Work is currently underway to create 87 new homes in the area for rent – 71 of which will be owned and managed by the association and 16 which are being built as part of a partnership with East Dunbartonshire Council.

The £7.9million housing development is being part funded by the Scottish Government, East Dunbartonshire Council and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The playpark is a key element and is costing £123,000.

Director Stephen Macintyre said: “The play area at Ivanhoe Drive will be completed by the summer 2013, just following the final handover of the new homes in May 2013.

“As well as play areas, public art will feature at this location following workshops within the school.

“This will be the second play area that we have developed, but it is the first designed with an artist and in conjunction with local school children, some of whom I expect may well be living in the new homes.”

In addition to the new homes, Hillhead Housing Association 2000 has been upgrading the other 700 properties that it owns.

Mr Macintyre said: “I am very proud of what the association has achieved in the 8½ years we have been in existence.

“To date we have invested £7.3m in upgrading and improving our existing stock. By the end of the year all our homes will have had new kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems installed.

“We have approximately 200 homes that are still to be upgraded externally with new windows, roofs and re-rendering. A programme and funding is in place to complete these works over the next two-three years.

“With the completion of the new-build development at Ivanhoe Drive we will have finished our new-build program and built 176 new homes. To date over £10.5m has been invested in new-build.”

He added: “I believe we have the support and confidence of the local community, and have proven we can deliver and maintain the promises made to tenants in 2002 when they were asked to vote for a change of landlord and transfer to a housing association.”

The association has an active Customer Care Group, comprising tenants and residents, which meets monthly.

FUTURE GLIMPSE: Artist’s impression of the finished playpark. Image courtesy of Jennifer Grant.

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