Graves Park in line for £200,000 upgrade in biggest overhaul for a decade

Graves Park
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Hundreds of thousands of pounds is to be spent on improving Graves Park in Sheffield - the site’s biggest upgrade in more than a decade.

The park’s five tennis courts are to be overhauled, the cricket pavilion and outfield will be refurbished in partnership with Norton Woodseats Cricket Club and work will take place on the animal farm and playground facilities.

New planting schemes, upgraded footpaths and new public toilets serving the bowls, tennis and golf are also planned by Sheffield Council.

Work will take place over the next 18 months on a phased basis.

Around £200,000 will be spent on the project.

A large proportion of the money - £150,000 - was generated by the sale of Cobnar Cottage, a dilapidated building on the boundary of the park which will be renovated as a residential property.

The measure proved controversial, and was opposed by members of the Friends of Graves Park group, who raised concerns that the council was ‘selling off’ sections of the city’s parkland.

But the Charity Commission said the decision was a matter for the council, which is responsible for the park as the trustees of the JG Graves Trust, and a last-ditch petition failed to stop the cottage from going to auction earlier this year.

There will also be funding contributions from car parking income, the Lawn Tennis Association and planning agreements with property developers.

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is the biggest spend programme in the park for many years and it fulfils our commitment to invest the £150,000 from the sale of the unused Cobnar Cottage.

“The improvements will form part of a rolling programme of works over the coming months, and to be able to do this in the current climate of cutbacks and austerity is great news for the park and its thousands of users.”

Money for large capital schemes in parks is currently scarce, and the council has not ruled out converting further ‘liabilities’, similar to the cottage, into investment which can be used specifically for park maintenance.

Two years ago Sheffield signed up to Rethinking Parks, a £1 million programme run by the Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and charity Nesta.

A pilot study, launched alongside the National Trust, looking at devising new ways of how Sheffield’s parks can be looked after through an independent charitable trust, funded through an endowment fund and social enterprise, is ongoing.

A subscription society trial has raised enough for repairs and a music festival this year at Heeley Millennium Park.