Kirklees residents to shape play areas across the borough as part of £9.5m scheme

Kirklees playgrounds are set for a revamp
Kirklees playgrounds are set for a revamp

Residents will help shape Kirklees Council’s £9.5million scheme to improve play areas across the borough

The council will begin consulting residents on what they want in their local play areas from spring 2020.

The aim of the scheme is to enhance all Kirklees play areas so they better meet local need and provide high quality play areas for all residents and help improve their health - particularly young people.

Councillor Rob Walker will present a report to Cabinet on October 8 to recommend that the strategy is revised to make it clear that the council will not be removing any play areas and will be working with the community to agree any changes.

If approved by Cabinet, the assessment of existing play areas and suggested changes will also be scrapped to make it clear that no decisions have been made.

Coun Walker said: "“When I came in as the new Cabinet Member for Culture and Environment our Playable Spaces Strategy was in the spotlight and I think it’s fair to say it grabbed people’s attention. So I wanted to take stock and consider the many comments that we had received before deciding on the best way forward.

“It’s clear that people care about their local play areas and that is a great starting point because that is what this has really always been about – what residents want.

“This is a scheme that looks at speaking to local people about what they want from their local play areas. Unfortunately, we didn’t make this clear enough form the start and I now want to put that right.

“This is not a change to policy, this was always the intention, but I hope that by revising the policy to make our intentions clearer that the community are given the re-assurance that they need.

“We would still looking at introducing more natural types of play equipment – as it has many benefits - but only where it is appropriate and wanted by local residents. We need to consider whether what we have in our play areas is still appropriate. That can only be determined by an open conversation and consultation with the local community.

“We also want to do more to support children and their families to use the parks and to live healthy lives.

“I very much hope that the conversation can now move on to one centred on how we can make best use of these areas for the benefit of the local community, and spend the money wisely.”

Councillor Walker will also be recommending that the classification of play areas will be removed so there is no impression that some areas are more important than others, when in reality even small areas can have significant local value.

The Council will now re-start the consultation with local councillors and in the spring next year a full public consultation exercise will begin. Details of this will be announced at a later date.