A PARENT of a disabled child is disappointed with the new plans for a playground that was designed to be accessible.

Abbey Gardens Play Area, based by The Broadway, is being refurbished by Winchester City Council to be more inclusive but mother Claire Brown has said that her child would be unable to use most of the equipment.

Mrs Brown’s daughter Isla, aged five, lives with severe global development delay and complex epilepsy meaning she is non-verbal and unable to walk without assistance.

The mother of three, who lives in Abbotts Barton, said: “I find it very difficult to go to the park, it’s not a happy place for me because it’s hard work. The equipment that they’re classing as disabled-friendly still requires walking so my daughter would only be able to use about two pieces and she doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand that.

“I was quite saddened by the design but sometimes you have to open up and speak to get changes made.”

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Claire has spoken to the council who have taken on board her recommendations of ramps and a wheelchair-accessible roundabout. The council has also contacted the special needs school Shepherds Down, which Isla attends, for inspiration and advice.

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Despite the cooperation, Claire believes that the process is too far along for the changes to be implemented.

She said: “Unless you have a disabled child you don’t understand how difficult it is. I’m shocked that the process has got to this stage but the contractors’ design conforms to disability standards so they must have thought it would meet people’s demands.”

“I hope they can make tweaks and adaptations for children who can’t walk and it’s nice to see the council is open to change.

“The disabled world is still new to me but I’ve found as a parent to a disabled child you always have to fight harder.”

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A spokesperson for Winchester City Council said: “Extensive ground works have been done to Abbey Gardens to remove all trip hazards, making the paths fully accessible to all the play equipment by all users, including wheelchairs and pushchairs.

“The play area has been designed with inclusive play as a matter of high importance, taking into account that the play space has to cater for a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

"The majority of the proposed play equipment is deemed to be accessible, but we understand the concerns raised about accessibility for wheelchair users for more of the equipment and are currently exploring opportunities to adapt some areas of the design to further address these issues.”

Cllr Charles Radcliffe who led the public consultations for the play area through out the summer has been contacted for comment.