A CHILDREN'S park has been cordoned off after a "malicious" fire.

The toddler play park at Holly Hill was sealed off by firefighters after they rushed to extinguish the blaze.

Part of the park - which is less than a year old - will now be closed until further notice, while council leader Cllr Sean Woodward described the incident as "extremely disappointing."

He said: "This is an extremely disappointing incident, especially as many families would have been looking forward to visiting the play area during the summer holidays.

"Unfortunately there is significant damage to the toddler section of the play area and it will therefore remain closed for some time – as soon as it reopens we will update social media and our website.

"A police investigation is underway and CCTV footage of the site is being examined. All other parts of the play area will be open as normal.”

The park is owned and run by the council - but is in the grounds of Holly Hill Leisure Centre.

Manager Ryan Cockroft said: "It's such a shame - it's an amazing park."

A Hampshire Fire and Police Spokesperson said: "We were called at 4.25 on Monday morning.

"The stop message came about an hour later. The cause is doubtful - meaning it's malicious."