14 July 2017

Home to a large lake, sports pitches, a rose garden, play areas, an animal farm and even its own herd of Highland cattle, Graves Park has been a joy for Sheffielders for almost a century.

And now, improvements are well underway at Graves, Sheffield’s largest park, following the sale of a derelict cottage on the edge of its boundary.

The sale of Cobnar Cottage, plus additional funding, meant that Sheffield City Council had almost £300k to spend on making Graves Park the very best it can be. Meanwhile, the cottage – which was formerly in a very poor state of repair – has now been sympathetically restored.

Improvements in progress across the park include creating new outdoor field shelters at the animal farm, installing new play equipment, revamping toilet facilities near the bowling green, and upgrading the tennis courts to make them fit for use once again.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s great to hear that the money from the sale of Cobnar Cottage is already making a big difference to Graves Park.

“It is no secret that we as an authority are under huge budget pressures, and we are very limited in the money that we can put into our city’s much-loved parks.

“This money is improving Graves Park and making it an even more enjoyable and accessible place for people of all ages to enjoy.”

Works on the tennis courts are being carried out in conjunction with the Lawn Tennis Association, and will see the courts brought up to the standard of other recently-revamped tennis courts in the city, such as those at Hillsborough and High Hazels parks.

It is hoped that improvements at the courts, free tennis coaching sessions and an accompanying new booking system, will encourage more people from across Sheffield to take up tennis.

Meanwhile, improvements to play facilities at the Cobnar Road playground – also known as Woodseats Playground – and also near the Rose Garden Cafe, will provide better-quality facilities at Graves for all the family.

David Kemp, chair of the Friends of Woodseats Playground – Graves Park, said: “We’re very pleased to see the improvements that Sheffield City Council has undertaken in Graves Park.

“The Friends of Woodseats Playground – Graves Park has been formed with the aim of developing Woodseats Playground into a friendly, fun area that will benefit everyone in the local community.

“We are committed to further park improvements, and look forward to continuing to work with Sheffield City Council and in engaging with other partners and supporters, to create a local park that we can all enjoy and be proud of.”

At Graves Park Animal Farm – which has sadly been the victim of criminal damage in recent months – new field shelters have been built to give the animals somewhere warmer to sleep.

Graves is the largest of more than 90 parks in Sheffield. Together, the city has 800 or so green spaces, making up more than 3,602 hectares of open space.

This is in addition to the announcement earlier this year that Sheffield is investing a huge £1.5m in its parks over the next three years, against a national background of austerity and budget cuts.

The money, £500k a year for the next three financial years, will go towards improving parks and play facilities in the communities that need it the most. Some of the money will also go towards recruiting four new apprentices, to work across Sheffield City Council’s parks and countryside service and learn the job from the ground up.

Councillor Lea added: “We in Sheffield are proud of our green and open spaces. From huge city parks through to ancient woodlands, open fields and urban playgrounds, we have much to cherish and enjoy.

“We also know that green spaces are important for people getting out in the fresh air and becoming active, whether that’s through walking, running, cycling or just playing.

“And that’s why we’re putting this extra money into parks and green spaces in the areas of the city that most need it.”