2 March 2017
Sheffield is bucking the trend and 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. The majority of the investment will come from the city’s Public Health budget, which is focused on reducing the gap between the healthiest and least healthy parts of Sheffield.
The investment comes only a week after a national parliamentary inquiry pointed to a growing UK crisis in parks, with declining facilities and persistent under-investment. The report pointed to the dangers of a tipping point in the country’s parks and the new investment here in Sheffield is designed to avoid this.
Some of the money will also go towards creating new jobs. Four new apprentices will be recruited in the coming financial year, to work across Sheffield City Council’s parks service and learn the job from the ground up.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “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.
“Starting with Norfolk Park, we’re today pledging to improve parks and playgrounds where health needs are greatest. And we hope that by investing in outdoor recreation, we’re investing in the future health of Sheffielders across many areas of the city.”
At Norfolk Park, £80,000 is set to be spent on a project to renew the park’s playgrounds, in collaboration with local ward councillors and the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park.
The aim of the scheme is to replace the current play provision, which is well past its best, with exciting new play spaces that will be available to children of all ages and abilities.
The old playgrounds were created in 2000 and have been very well used over the last 17 years, which is testament to the success of the regeneration of the site.
Much of the equipment is, though, now coming to the end of its natural life and a number of play items have already been decommissioned.
Planning, consultation and design work are all well underway, and it is hoped that works on site will begin in September.
Information on the other parks, open spaces and playgrounds set to be improved as part of the investment project is set to be revealed in the coming weeks.
- Norfolk Heritage Park has had the Green Flag award for 10 years and the renewal of the play grounds will ensure it continues to achieve this national quality standard.
- The park is Grade II* listed on English Heritage’s national resister of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest. The park also contains five Grade II Listed buildings or structures, and areas of ancient woodland.
- Between 1999 and 2005 the park underwent significant regeneration through a £3.6m Heritage Lottery-funded restoration project. The park landscape was restored to its original Victorian character and new visitor facilities were constructed, including the Centre in the Park.
- As part of the improvements at Norfolk Heritage Park it is also proposed to install a new bridge and steps, to improve access into the site from the housing area currently under construction.
- Norfolk Heritage Park has café and toilet provision at the Centre in the Park