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Over the last few years, Portswood Rec has undergone some major changes and improvements are set to continue as funding is found.
In 2011, in recognition of these improvements, the Rec was awarded the First Place in the prestigious Southampton Open Spaces Award scheme backed by the City of Southampton Society and the Southampton Common and Parks Protection Society (SCAPPS). The award was presented by the Mayor of Southampton Terry Matthews at a ceremony in the Rec. The new Friends of Portswood Rec group was formed and constituted after this event to continue the improvements to the Rec, enhancing the lives of the local community through environmental and social development.
One of the first improvements the Friends of Portswood Rec were aiming to achieve was better access from Brickfield Road, which following a successful campaign and funding bid resulted in an access ramp being installed in 2013. We are now considering future projects, which could include resurfacing of the Grosvenor Road entrance to provide some disabled parking spaces and working to improve the appearance of the entrance at Kitchener Road, making recreation easier and more appealing for all.
We have worked with the Council on plans to update the play area, and following consultations with the public, work began in Spring 2013. A nautical theme was chosen, with an octopus play structure, shark bench and a whale bench along with a pyramid climbing frame being installed. We continue to seek additional funding to improve the play area further by encouraging more inclusive play with the provision of more equipment designed for children with mobility issues.
Portswood Rec became a designated Queen Elizabeth II Playing Field in 2012. This award to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and the Commonwealth Games in 2014 has seen Southampton City Council sign a Deed of Dedication, which will protect the Rec forever as a Field in Trust, ensuring future generations will be able to enjoy this lovely public play area without fear of development. The award also offers unique funding opportunities, which the Friends of Portswood Rec hope to utilise to continue updating and improving the facilities at the Rec, making it an even better place to visit.