Parks and green spaces are central to all three of our corporate priorities – Reducing Inequalities, Tackling Climate Change and Creating Strong, Thriving Towns. They are widely recognised as important community assets within the Borough, providing free, local and accessible opportunities for residents to be active and enjoy themselves.Andrew Pitts - Assistant Director for Neighbourhoods (responsible for Green Spaces & Street Scene)
Our parks and green spaces are key assets within our communities where residents and visitors have free access to nature and space to be physically active. Following on from recent success at Shroggs Park; we have obtained further funding to invest in more parks within Calderdale.
Active Parks Project
Our Active Parks project, funded by Sport England, focuses on 10 key areas within Calderdale. The initial stage which is ongoing includes Mixenden, Rastrick, Cornholme and Park Ward.
The secondary stage (subject to funding) will include Ovenden & Illingworth, Warley, Town (Siddal, Boothtown, Town Centre), Ryburn/Sowerby Bridge, Elland, Brighouse/Hipperholme & Lightcliffe.
Improvements to parks and green spaces need to be based on community insight into where there are challenges, needs and ideas. Therefore, gathering these insights through community engagement and consultation is vital. Without an understanding of where the challenges lie, there is a risk that there will be negligible impact from any interventions or changes made through the Active Parks Project.
This Community Led Approach seeks to build on and harness the information gathered, as well as to scale up the projects we have delivered in communities through the Active Calderdale work to date.
Our main aims and objectives are:
- Enable all residents to share their views on how parks and green spaces could be improved to increase their usage.
- Target areas of higher deprivation to address inequalities which prevent residents from being more active within these spaces.
- Deliver Community engagement to understand how parks can be improved to make them safer, more accessible, more attractive
- Use insights to prioritise areas for investment
- Production of an Active improvement plan per park
- Co-design and set-up new opportunities for local people to be socially and physically active in parks
- Make improvements to the physical infrastructure of parks to make them more accessible, more attractive and safer, specifically for women & girls and people with disabilities
Through this funding and approach our aim is to work with and involve residents, community groups and other stakeholders to create lasting change that offers everyone, but particularly those who currently don’t feel like they have, the opportunity and encouragement, to actively participate in, and benefit from, their local green spaces.
We recognise that this will require new ways of working and sustainable cultural change within our services, whereby we strengthen ties with residents and stakeholders, such as our local neighbourhood teams, as a core element of day-to-day operational delivery.Andrew Pitts - Assistant Director for Neighbourhoods (responsible for Green Spaces & Street Scene)
The community led process is already underway as evidenced by our recent work in Cornholme. Following a Community Led Workshop at Vale Baptist Church, a site walk was completed visiting areas of green space and parks within Cornholme starting at ‘Portsmouth Rec’. Members of the Parks and Green Spaces team and Active Calderdale staff visited all spaces addressed in the workshop and discussed the issues raised while gathering information on land ownership and the potential key benefits of these pieces of land.
The site walk-through gave the teams a real sense of how wonderful the valley within Cornholme is and how the funding can help to unlock this beauty by increasing access for residents.
The visit also led to direct action in these spaces including grass cutting and path clearing by the Parks team; making physical activity more accessible and attractive for residents in the area.
The area will be maintained on a continuous basis and further improvements will be made once the community feedback is processed. The decisions around where the funding should be focussed will be finalised by a Community Panel.
Making an Impact
Long term it is hoped this strategy will have the following impact:
- More local residents, particularly those in our priority groups (Women and girls, elderly people, Black & Minority Ethnic groups, disabled people and people from low-income households), being active in parks and green spaces
- Increased satisfaction with parks from residents
- People in our priority groups are healthier, happier, and better connected because of parks and green spaces
Sub groups have been set up and assigned initial areas in which ideas and insight from residents will be discussed and progressed.
The next steps include proposals being presented back to the Community Panel and the community. The panel, established within each area of focus, will then decide how investment will be spent within the assigned parks and green spaces.