It has been the centrepiece of schoolchildren’s summer holidays for years.

Now Southampton Common’s iconic paddling pool is to be replaced with a £500,000 state-of-the-art play area.

Council planners gave the green light for the scheme which will include a seven-and-a-half metre play tower featuring rope bridges, tunnels and a slide.

It will also have five 3m-high climbing trees, a tree high double zip wire, a variety of swings and more play equipment.

Southampton Commons and Parks Protection Society (SCAPPS) has raised concerns over a 1.2 metre high steel fence which would surround the play area could “seriously damage” the quality of Coronation Avenue, a stretch of scenic path within the common.

SCAPPS secretary Graham Linecar said: “The fence would be obtrusive in views along the Avenue.

“It would destroy, or at least seriously diminish the Avenue’s effect.”

Although the paddling pool will be decommissioned, the play area will offer new water play facilities, including hand-operated pumps.

The area can accommodate between 600 and 700 visits at one time - but no new parking will be included.

The plans received more than half a dozen objections.

Councillors approved the application, with work expected to start on the play area soon ahead of a summer opening.

Chair Cllr Mike Denness backed the project and said the current site looks "old and tired".

He added: “This is an entirely different form of play. I think it is well supported and I think the new scheme looks like a breath of fresh air.”

Nick Yeats, council parks and open spaces manager, said: “It has been designed following consultation with residents, parks users and four local schools so we have concentrated very much on what people, and in particular children, would like to see.”

Mr Yeats said there is no proposal to install CCTV on-site, despite calls from Hampshire police. He also said that lighting would be detrimental to wildlife, which includes great crested newts and bats.

Mr Yeats added that the 17-year-old paddling pool was only opened three months a year but only got packed in good weather.

He added: “We have really thought about making water much more exciting than just walking into it to paddle.”

Council leisure boss Cllr Satvir Kaur, said: “I speak to residents all the time about how the play area needed improving.

"This new area will offer so much variety on type of play on offer.

“The Common is a tremendous asset for the entire city and it will be great to have more families there.”

What will the new play area offer?

• A 7.5 metre-high play tower featuring rope bridges, tunnels, scramble nets and a long slide
• A variety of swings
• An embankment slide and ramp
• A hollow log climbing structure
• Water play areas including hand-operated pumps, arrow and shallow concrete channels and sluice gates, a small waterfall over boulders into various channels, natural swales area featuring stepping stones and low timber bridges, decking and sand area
• Five three-metre high climbing trees
• A 4.3 metre-high double zip wire
• An accessible roundabout
• Bespoke tree top nests – featuring two nests, a bridge slide, tunnel and accessible ground nest
• Four-metre long oak benches with back rests
• A 1.2 metre high galvanised steel mesh boundary fence with self-closing gates
• Picnic benches with associated landscaping
• Dog tethering posts
• Cycle racks at each pedestrian gate entrance
• An improved footpath link down to the Hawthorns Centre.