In March 2017 Sheffield City Council announced plans to invest £1.5m in to its parks over a three year period, to upgrade outdoor facilities in the parts of Sheffield where health needs are the greatest.

Following development plans, work started at the beginning of this year to upgrade playgrounds and multi-use games areas (MUGAs) in various locations including Brightside, Hillsborough, Highfields and Richmond.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said:

We in Sheffield are proud of our green and open spaces. Our huge city parks attract hundreds of visitors, but we also know how valuable our smaller community parks are to the people who live nearby.

It has been proven that outdoor spaces play an important role in improving mental and physical wellbeing, whether through walking, running, cycling or just playing, which is why we’re committed to providing high quality spaces and facilities in the areas they are most needed.

In this first year of investment alone, we have completed major refurbishment work to Norfolk Heritage Park playgrounds and upgraded nine other local parks. I’m thrilled we’ve been able to complete all of this improvement work in time for the summer holidays, allowing local people to get out and enjoy our parks to the full.

As well as Norfolk Heritage Park playgrounds’ full refurbishment, further funds have been spent on improving playgrounds at Brightside Recreation Ground, Cardwell Drive, Hillsborough Park, Springwell Drive, Middlewood Park and Richmond Park, and on improvements to MUGAs at Richmond, Duchess Road and Philadelphia Gardens.

Sites were prioritised for improvement by looking at the areas with the highest levels of deprivation, including health inequalities combined with mapping the quality and standards of outdoor spaces. This method allowed the Parks and Countryside service to identify and improve parks and green spaces in areas where health needs were the greatest and facilities most in need of improvement.

Works completed this year include installation of a range of new playground facilities, from toddler play units, to parkour inspired agility equipment. Other work has included the much needed improvement of outdated and uninspiring ball game facilities, where new MUGAs have been created to encourage physical activity and sports opportunities for communities.

Since reopening in July Norfolk Heritage Park playground is attracting huge numbers of families from across the city who are now staying for longer periods at the park because they can spend the whole day there walking, picnicking, bike riding and playing. Visitor numbers are also on the rise at the other improved parks with local people making the most of the new facilities.

The Council’s Parks and Countryside service will continue working with Public Health colleagues and partners to make sure communities across the city benefit from this funding.

Further Public Health funded projects will be progressed across the city over the next two years with the aim of improving the quality of the city’s parks and green spaces, encouraging their use, and providing opportunities for all to receive the health and wellbeing benefits that parks provide.

Cllr Lea added:

Outdoor spaces provide a free resource for people to take part in physical activity and for some families it’s the only way they can get out and be active. It’s so important that we continue to improve our parks because investment in Sheffield’s outdoor recreation is investment in the health of those who live, work and study here.

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