Picture Gallery: Waterloo Park, in Norwich, unveils new water play area

There was perhaps more water than expected this afternoon as a historic Norwich park unveiled a new gem.

Children from Angel Road Infants and Angel Road Junior schools gathered in the rain at Waterloo Park as they celebrated the official opening of a new water play area.

But the conditions failed to dampen their spirits as dozens of children enjoyed splashing around among the fountains and water shoots.

The old square paddling pool had been a popular feature at the park for decades but the city council decided it was time to revamp it using �215,000 from section 106 cash – money developers give to the council as part of planning permission agreements.

The result is a new play area, known as a splashpad, that is full of water jets, spray showers, an arching water fence and water cage that children can operate using special buttons and standing on certain sensors.

Conducting the official opening was councillor Deborah Gihawi, cabinet member for play, parks and open spaces.

She said: 'I played in the pool as a child myself and my children have grown up with this park. To see the new design is fantastic.'

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She added that the new design is environmentally-friendly, with the used water collected in a storage system in the ground so that it can be pumped on to the bowling greens and trees.

She said it would offer a long-term cost saving because the previous paddling pool had been in need of repair and was expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

The development has been a collaborative project by council departments and today marked the culmination of over a year's work.

Project manager Lara Hall said: 'We were keen to get it started in time for the summer and are really pleased to get it open for the school holidays.

'It is lovely to see it open and the children enjoying it – we are thrilled.'

She added that in September a new bridge will be brought in to meet a number of requests from parents.

The new play area had been created in consultation with local families and the initial reaction from children and parents was positive.

Karen Vaughan, 39, of the Mile Cross estate, took her six-year-old daughter Sophie, and three-year-old son Matthew along to see it opened.

Mrs Vaughan said her daughter was so excited that she took her swimming costume to Angel Road Infants school with her all day.

'I think I will have trouble taking them home and we will be back tomorrow,' she said.

Sheila Baikie, of Green Hill Road, was there with her sons Ethan, five, and Malachi, three, and daughter Grace-Rose, 17 months.

Mrs Baikie said: 'It is really lovely seeing their faces and the expectation just waiting for the water to come out. They all seem to love it at the moment.'

She said that she hoped it would be well maintained and looked after.