First park in Sheffield to benefit from Â£1.5 million funding boost is revealed
Parks in Sheffield are set to benefit from a Â£1.5 million investment over the next three years.
The major cash injection was announced on Thursday by Sheffield Council which claims it is bucking the national trend of spending cuts for green spaces elsewhere in the country.
The money will be spent improving parks and playgrounds in those communities which the council says need it the most.
Norfolk Heritage Park, just south-east of the city centre, will be the first recipient.
There, Â£80,000 will be spent renewing the park's playgrounds, in collaboration with local ward councillors and the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park.
The existing play facilities were built in 2000 and are showing their age, with numerous pieces of equipment already out of action.
Planning, consultation and design of the new play equipment is well underway and the council hopes to begin work in September.
As well as improvements to the playground at the park, which is home to five Grade II-listed structures and areas of ancient woodland, the money is set to fund a new bridge and steps to improve access from homes being built on its doorstep.
Information on which other parks, open spaces and playgrounds are in line for a slice of the bounty is set to be revealed in the coming weeks.
Some of the money will also go towards creating jobs, with recruitment for four new apprentices to work across Sheffield's parks set to begin in the coming financial year.
Councillor Mary Lea, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, 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.”
The investment was announced just a week after a national parliamentary inquiry painted a gloomy picture for the UK's parks, where it said declining facilities and long-term under-investment were contributing to a brewing crisis.
The report warned of a 'tipping point', which Sheffield Council said the Â£1.5m bonanza was designed to protect the city's green spaces from reaching.
The majority of the Â£500,000 a year investment will come from the city's public health budget, which is focused on narrowing the health divide between Sheffield's neighbourhoods.