New Building Better Parks strategy may see millions invested in Sheffield’s parks 

The Building Better Parks strategy approved at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday will aim to improve Sheffield’s parks, especially those in the city’s areas of greatest health inequality.

The strategy proposal estimated that around £8m may be available to sustain and improve parks and green areas over the next five years.

Lisa Firth, Head of Parks & Countryside, said: “We know that many areas of Sheffield suffer from high levels of health inequalities and we know that having access to good quality green space has a positive impact on physical and mental health and well-being.

“We’ll ensure our business model is appropriate for each site so that we don’t just get interest in our most attractive and affluent sites.”

The strategy will focus on growing revenue income, partnerships and volunteering, and a rigorous and transparent reinvestment framework.

The Parks and Countryside Service generates roughly £1.8m in revenue from sponsorship, car parking, leases, and other fees and charges.

The strategy proposal estimated that another £1m could be generated over the next five years.

This may be through more catering opportunities, new activities and events, or social value initiatives.

Partnerships under the new strategy will be guided by a number of principles including addressing inequalities and promoting activity and participation in Sheffield’s most deprived areas.

When asked about the biggest issues faced by parks in deprived areas in Sheffield, Ms Firth said: “Lack of facilities means that people don’t take the parks to their heart, they don’t care about them and then they suffer from antisocial behaviour and facilities have to be removed, for instance if they get burnt.

“This leads to the parks looking neglected as we can’t afford to replace equipment.

“We have to therefore take an approach that involves all members of the community in developing the green space so they can help us to look after it.”

The strategy will look at improving quality across facilities in all areas of the city as well, while ensuring affordable public access.

Ms Firth said: “All our parks will benefit in some way from this approach.

“However, we will be reinvesting the most in the areas that need it the most.”

A reinvestment criteria for leases and licenses was developed under the new strategy.

This will look at the benefits to the park, and whether they outweigh the potential loss of green space, as well considering factors such as consultations with stakeholders.

The Building Better Parks strategy will be the new decision making framework for parks improvement.