CHILDREN will finally be able to enjoy a new play area...more than 18 months after it was closed for health and safety reasons.

The gates at Bradford Drive play area in Mile End, Colchester were shut, initially without explanation, in July 2008.

It later emerged developer Taylor Wimpey, which built the playground as part of the St James’ Park development, had not bought public liability insurance to cover it.

Then it was discovered the gate did not shut properly and the park – aimed at five to 12-year-olds – had the wrong play equipment in it.

To make matters worse, a safety test last month found some of the flooring was not secure enough.

But the play area is on the verge of passing all health and safety tests, which means Colchester Council can “adopt” it and let children play in it.

Martin Goss, Mile End councillor, said he was pleased children would finally be able to take advantage of the facility.

He said: “This has cost Taylor Wimpey a fortune, but they should have got it right in the first place.”

Bob Penny, parks and recreation manager at the council, said the frustrating wait was nearing an end.

He said: “We’ve been asking them (Taylor Wimpey) for quite some time for some remedial works to the play area.

“We’re clearly not in a position to open it up to public use until we’re satisfied it meets all the requirements.

“We’re satisfied the equipment itself is built correctly.

“There are some minor works still to be done and it is frustrating that it has taken such a long time to get this works completed.

“We had hoped to get them done before the Easter break, but that didn’t materialise.”

Amy Taylor, a spokeswoman for Taylor Wimpey, said: “We apologise for the time it has taken to resolve the issues regarding the play area.

“It has taken longer than anticipated to ensure everything conforms to appropriate safety regulations.

“An adoption payment has been already been made to the local authority, and once final approval has been received from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the local authority will be free to officially adopt the play area and open it up for the public.”