Schoolkids are jumping with joy all over their bright new playground, which was previously described as ‘bleak’.
The North Street school won grant money to give it a re-vamp, and now boasts a fantastic, stimulating environment for kids to play.
Parent, school volunteer and head of the PTA, Nicola Paine, said pupils instantly fell in love the transformation.
She added: “It’s fantastic, the kids really love it and it’s added so much sunshine to their playground. It’s really colourful now compared to what it was. There wasn’t a lot going on, it was very plain.
Now the youngsters have a much more vibrant space to play in, with better equipment, ground markings for hopscotch-style games and soft surfaces.
Her son in year six, Jacob Paine, 10, said: “It’s great, we’ve got so much more fun stuff to play now, and we can finally play basketball!”
Head teacher Liz Foster said: “It was a bit bleak! We wanted to enhance the outdoor area for the children, we worked with the local authority to put the grant in and it’s all about encouraging them to be more active.
“We now have two new basketball nets, ‘squidgy’ activity surfacing to play games on and some new fencing to define different playing areas. The pupils absolutely love it, and are spending pretty much all of their break times out there.”
The school received grant money from Sport England in 2014 and had to put in planning permission to make changes to the grade-II listed building in the Derwent Valley Mills world heritage site.
And the transformation represents a victory as teachers were actually told their original plan was too colourful – and were asked by planning officers to tone it down.
Head teacher Mrs Foster confirmed: “They did say there was too much colour. So, we were told we needed to mute the colours, but I’m really happy with what we’ve got, it’s really bright.”
A DCC spokesperson said the refurbishment raised issues because of the sensitivity of the building but could not confirm issues with the playground colours specifically.
They said: “We asked for some small adjustments to move a canopy to a different location.
“It’s a grade-II listed building, and it’s in the Derwent Valley Mils so obviously it’s quite a sensitive area.
“They made those adjustments and then the application was accepted.”
They later added: “The canopy had to be changed from light grey to a darker shade of grey.”
DCC’s strategic director for environment Mike Ashworth said in an August planning decision: “I note the proposed canopies and storage shed would be coloured RAL 7037 (Dusty Grey). However, given the sensitive location of the development within the Conservation Area and the DVMWHS, and adjacent to a number of listed buildings, I consider that a darker, more visually recessive colour would be more appropriate. I have therefore recommended a condition to ensure the canopies and storage shed are coloured RAL7021 (Black Grey).
Historic Buildings Architect Alex Gilbert said in consultation on heritage aspects that the position of steel canopies and sheds would have a negative impact. He also stated: “It would be preferable for them to be supplied in a darker grey than that specified on the drawings.”
Business officer at the school Julie Hamilton confirmed there were limitations to the colour scheme of the playground surfaces but the school worked closely with DCC for the best outcome.
She added: “We could only have certain colours, but we worked with them and we’ve got a positive outcome that we’re really happy with.”