This week plans for an Activity Hub development in Hillsborough Park were presented to senior councillors for a decision. The proposal for the Activity Hub includes additional investment which would see an extension to the Tennis Courts, a new Catering Opportunity, wider recreational facilities and an accessible toilet for Park use.
However, this would also reduce the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) by two thirds.
Local councillors, Friends of Hillsborough Park, and many local people expressed reservations about many aspects of the proposal.
Sheffield Labour councillors were not satisfied with what was being proposed by council officers and voted to pause any decision until further work on understanding the local concerns and to fully appreciate the impact the decision would have on the park.
Specific concerns were highlighted at the meeting about the impact of the reduced multi use game area and of a lack of sufficient consultation.
The decision by the Committee to pause any action followed the intervention of Councillor George Lindars-Hammond (Labour councillor for Hillsborough) who brought the concerns of local people to the attention of decision makers.
Labour Councillor for Hillsborough Ward George Lindars-Hammond said:
‘Talking with residents it’s clear there are widespread concerns about the plans – especially the reduction in well used MUGA area.
‘Also the scale of the reduction was not fully explained in the consultation which brings its validity into question’
‘I’m grateful to local residents who have raised this issue with me, and to Friends of Hillsborough Park who have launched a petition citing concerns. I will continue to speak with the park group and council officers to see what can be done to find an acceptable way forward.
‘I think we would all like to see additional facilities brought into Hillsborough park and to other parks in the city – but we need to be careful we balance new provision against preservation of existing well used and much loved facilities which are free to use.
“At present, I don’t think the council has balanced this right yet, and Labour councillors will continue to challenge this decision until we get to a scheme supported by residents.
“I’ll continue to work with all concerned in the hope that a good way forward can be found.
Labour Deputy Leader Julie Grocutt said:
‘George is a fierce advocate for local people and has brought the concerns he has heard back to council on behalf of his constituents.
‘The Activity Hub should be a great scheme, and I’m sure it will be, but there’s quite a lot of work still to do’.
Highlighting concerns that some local people had not been engaged in an important decision affecting their park, Labour Councillor Dawn Dale Member of the Charities Sub-committee said at the meeting:
‘Just over 2% of people consulted online were under 24 years old’
‘I’m concerned stakeholders in Hillsborough have not been heard – how many local young people who use the park have been engaged to have their say?’
‘We need to hear the voice of younger park uses before we could possibly consider next steps.