'A first for Lowestoft': Joy as new outdoor fitness equipment unveiled
- Credit: Mick Howes
New outdoor fitness equipment has been unveiled at a play area in Lowestoft as part of a first for the town.
Almost three-and-a-half years ago, more than 200 people turned out to discuss improvements to facilities at the Whitton Green play area in Lowestoft.
Now, after an investment of around £120,000, new improved facilities have been officially opened as part of the Whitton Green Project.
The mayor of Lowestoft, Alan Green, was present at the unveiling on Monday morning (July 4) alongside Lowestoft town councillors, members of Waveney Valley AC, the public and a team from Kompan UK - who gave demonstrations on how to use the new gym equipment.
A town council spokesman said: "Lowestoft Town Council are delighted that what started as a public consultation back in 2019 on how the site could be used, now sees the launch of the completed concept with the retained caged sports arena, the children’s play park and the outdoor fitness equipment."
The project was jointly supported by East Suffolk Council, district councillors Frank Mortimer and Trish Mortimer, East Suffolk Communities Team, East Suffolk Norse and Lowestoft Town Councilr.
Gone is one of the large caged sports arenas, with shrubbery cut back, groundworks carried out and the new equipment - including cardio bikes, fitness and outdoor play equipment, a suspension trainer, cross trainer and an arm bike - all installed.
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New benches have been added to the play area, with the children's play park being resurfaced.
The Kompan UK outdoor gym - which is suitable for all - uses a QR code and an app that can be downloaded for free to smartphones.
It gives users a demonstration on each piece of equipment, along with some recommended workouts and can save your progress - so keep fit fanatics can keep coming back and improving.
Hailed as "a first for Lowestoft", Helen Sephton-Pike, from Kompan UK, said: "The equipment here is more than a workout - it is for everybody.
"You can set yourself challenges, build up to different levels and set yourself suggested circuits - it is pretty cool.
"It's free and open to everyone with pictorial information on the equipment giving you information and an example of what to do.
"This is a first for Lowestoft, we have a few in Suffolk - at Ipswich - and in Cambridgeshire and features innovative third generation equipment in outdoor fitness that we have developed."
With Elmtree ward councillors Elise Youngman, Peter Lang, Sonia Barker at the official opening alongside fellow Lowestoft town councillors Alan Green, Janet Craig and Andy Pearce, Mrs Barker said: "I honestly think it will be really well used.
"This all stems from listening to the community and reflecting their wishes."
Mr Green said that after the consultation event in February 2019, work had carried on throughout the pandemic.
He added: "We had a consultation pre pandemic for people interested in new facilities - including outdoor gym equipment.
"We also wanted to provide somewhere secure that the children and younger ones might go to."
Earlier this year, bird boxes were installed in trees around the area with children from Elm Tree Primary School adding bug hotels they'd made as part of the project.
Mr Pearce said the outdoor fitness equipment cost "just over £40,000" with improvements to the whole of the play area, along with "a lot of groundworks" and earthworks - including the removal of shrubbery and one of the cages - seeing the project cost a "total between £110,000 to £120,000".
In April, Lowestoft town council started refurbishment works at Normanston Park in Lowestoft and at Fen Park in Southwell Road, Kirkley - with new exercise and keep fit equipment soon to be unveiled.
This week, the town council said the new equipment at Fen Park and Normanston Park is due to be opened imminently.
After police had reported a rise in anti social behaviour in the autumn of 2018, a "multi-agency approach" was launched after groups of young people were identified as being responsible for incidents of racist abuse and two firework attacks on the Premier Store.
In 2019, a public consultation event was held on The Green with 200 people attending.
Open to people living in the area of the Whitton Estate in Lowestoft and the surrounding area of Kirkley, the four-hour event featured free activities - including a mini ice rink, boxing taster sessions and more.
Feedback from the event highlighted what the young people had said about The Green - with figures revealing 25 per cent did not play outside, while a third of children "did not play out for fear of what may happen".