A play area which was hit by arson has been officially reopened by schoolchildren.

Durham County Council carried out a major refurbishment and extension of the facility at Catchgate, as part of a £1.75m investment in play areas across its boundaries.

However, not long after the work was complete late last year, some of the new equipment was damaged by arson.

The council replaced the damaged gear and the site has now been officially reopened by pupils from Catchgate Primary School.

Cllr Maria Plews, the council’s Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “A lot of time, money and effort had gone into the makeover of this playground as part of our scheme to upgrade sites all over County Durham.

“We were naturally dismayed when some of the new equipment we had put in was needlessly the subject of arson but we have worked quickly to replace it.

“I’m delighted that the park is now open for local children to enjoy and looking great at that.

“It was lovely to have the primary school pupils along to help with the reopening.”

The refurbished play area boasts a ground flush roundabout, which can be used by all children including those in wheelchairs or pushchairs.

It also features new swings and climbing units suitable for children up to the age of 12.

The new equipment replaces that which was installed in 2004/5 and which catered only for very young children.

Funding for the scheme was provided by developers as part of planning agreements as well as from the play area fund.

Support also came from the primary school.

The council agreed to invest £1.75m on refurbishing or renewing fixed play equipment at 45 sites around the county, in July 2015 following extensive consultation.

The programme aims to ensure there is fairer and more equitable access to play across the county in future, with high quality, appropriate, accessible and well-resourced fixed play areas for all children and young people.

Oliver Sherratt, the council’s head of direct services, said: “We are committed to securing the best possible play facilities for our young people as our investment proves.

“It’s great to see the site at Catchgate open after the unfortunate setback we suffered and we hope local children will enjoy it for years to come.”

A full list of play areas being developed, and expected completion dates, can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/playspacerefurb