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Work gets underway on £740k Thompson Park regeneration

More than £740,000 is being invested into transforming Southwick's Thompson Park into an active park.

Start of £740k improvements to Thompson Park

The exciting plans will see a new adventure play area and a toddler play area with inclusive play equipment, as well as a new running track and trim trail obstacle course with outdoor gym equipment.

Thompson Park is also set to become home to the second of only two interactive football walls in the North East. This will offer a range of fun games and challenges, aimed at beginners and experienced football players of all ages.

The Yalp Sutu Interactive Football Wall comes complete with 16 impact sensitive LED panels which measure and react to ball impact, allowing players to play a wide range of single and multiplayer games. The wall gives players feedback and encouragement to work on skills such as accuracy, by kicking the ball at selected panels when they light up, measure how hard they can hit the ball and beat their own personal high score.

The regeneration has been made possible thanks to a £320,000 investment from the City Council's North Area Committee and a £55,000 contribution from the City Council's Health and Wellbeing Board for the interactive play equipment, with the remaining £365,000 coming from the City Council. 

Councillor Denny Wilson, Chair of Sunderland City Council's North Area Committee, said: "We're really excited about the plans for Thompson Park. The new play equipment and the interactive football wall will be a great addition to the park. It's all about encouraging residents to enjoy being active outdoors by taking advantage of the fantastic facilities on offer in the park. It's also been great to work with the friends of Thompson Park who have been really supportive of the project.

Speaking on behalf of the three Southwick ward councillors Councillor Michael Butler, Councillor Alex Samuels, and Councillor Kelly Chequer, Cllr. Butler added: "We're very happy to see this redevelopment begin and have been working hard to make sure this happens for residents. 

"We know families need somewhere exciting to visit and the improvements and additions to the play area will make Thompson Park the perfect activities destination for the families of Southwick and beyond."

Work on the improvements, which has been developed with the City Council's Design Services, has been meticulously timed, with the aim of opening the new play areas in time for residents to enjoy during the Easter holidays.  The interactive football wall will open later, in early May.

Councillor Linda Williams Cabinet Member for Vibrant City said: "It's wonderful to see the improvements at Thompson Park going ahead as part of our ongoing drive to encourage residents to be more active through our Swim Bike Run programme. Being physically active has so many benefits in terms of improving both mental and physical health. We also know how passionate our residents are about providing more things to do for children and young people so it's great to see this investment going into these fabulous facilities."

The investment in the interactive football wall is underpinned by Sunderland's leading smart city infrastructure made possible by the unique partnership with BAI Communications.

Liz St Louis, director of smart cities at Sunderland City Council, said: "Our children are growing up in a digital age and have the chance to leverage technology to open up a world of opportunities for their future. Learning through play is proven to be beneficial to development, and by integrating technology we can ensure activities are as interactive as possible.

"The new interactive football wall is a great example of how the digital transformation of our city can have a positive and enriching impact on the lives of our residents and their families. By investing in amenities across our communities, we can showcase Sunderland as a modern city of the future and a great place to live, work and play." 

Committed to leaving no one and nowhere behind and in keeping with Sunderland's Smart City ambitions, there will also be investment in Wi-Fi in the park and in providing CCTV to help keep residents safe.


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