THE creation of a new children’s playground in Skipton’s Aireville Park is underway – with the first phase due to open by Christmas.

Work started on Monday with the landscaping of the area of the park between the zip wire and the bandstand, in preparation for the new equipment to be installed.

Craven District Council and the Friends of Aireville Park have raised £160,000 so far, with generous grants and donations from a range of organisations, businesses and individuals.

Fiona Protheroe, chairman of Friends of Aireville Park, said: “We’re so excited that work is starting on this fantastic new playground which we’ve been working towards for so long.

“We’re so grateful to all those who have supported and sponsored our fundraising campaign and we can’t wait to see our dream become reality.”

Councillor Linda Brockbank, Craven District Council’s lead member for resilient communities, said: “We’ve been working hard with Friends of Aireville Park to get the funding in place and I’m delighted to see the work is about to begin. Together with the friends group, we have already made huge improvements over the last few years, with a new skate park, pump track and zip wire which are all extremely popular. This new play area will transform the park even further and create a wonderful place for families to visit for many years to come.”

Skipton BID have given a grant of £7,500 to the playground, which will pay for a “Wobbly Sheep” play sculpture and musical play equipment.

Geraldine Thompson, Skipton BID manager, said: “This is a brilliant project which will benefit residents of Skipton and beyond, and attract more visitors to the area. We’re very happy to support the new playground and hope to see it filled with families enjoying themselves very soon.”

Walk For Jodie, set up in memory of Jodie Willsher, has raised almost £5,000, which will pay for the playground sandpit and a bench.

Fi Jenkinson, who organised and took part in a Yorkshire Three Peaks walk, alongside members of Jodie’s family and friends, said: “We’re really pleased to have raised so much, to provide a lasting memorial to Jodie. We’d like to say thank you to all the businesses and people who have sponsored us and made donations for our fundraising raffle – everyone has been so generous.”

The first phase of the playground will also feature equipment including a toddler climbing frame, swings, a turntable roundabout, a climbing tower, a sandpit, a climbing castle, rope bridges and climbing nets, a den-building area, basket swing, dragonfly and butterfly play sculptures and a log trail.

A second phase, which will follow when the council receives around £60,000 from planning gain, will include a larger climbing frame and a multi-play unit, a spinning swing, scramble nets and more play sculptures.

While work is taking place the main path in the park will be closed from the bandstand up to the bollards at the top of the path. An alternative access through to Skipton Academy and Craven College will be available via the steps or the ramp down to the Craven Leisure car park. Skipton parkrun will be able to take place as normal.