Last year we published our Healthy Open Spaces Strategy, laying out all the reasons why parks and open spaces are an integral part of Huntingdonshire and what we should do in the future to improve not only the spaces themselves, but the relationships the community form with them.
We did this to ensure that our spaces continue to be used and valued by our community and explore how they can support wider positive change. We have set out to understand how greenspaces across Huntingdonshire can support our local people to live healthier lives, improve their mental health and wellbeing, contribute to the fight against climate change and address social isolation.
But how did we do this? We spoke to people, in person, while we could! We talked to people from various parts of the community, from pensioners to primary school children. We asked them what they thought made a park and open space great and what barriers were stopping them from using them. Children designed us their dream park (Xbox corner anyone?) and adults told us there was no way they would visit an open space unless it had a toilet – all these things were important.
To ensure that the district provides quality provision for all, invites were extended across the community and to our stakeholders to join in person workshops, discussions and to complete questionnaires, eventually moving to Zoom virtual drop ins when we had to. By the end of this consultation period, we spoke to over 1,000 members of the community.
Embrace Your Space was the vision born from this, with an aim of getting more people using and enjoying our parks, open spaces and play areas to benefit their health and wellbeing. Within this vision are four themes, 'shape your space', 'create your space', 'celebrate your space' and 'reinvigorate your space' which all at their heart include community driven focus and positive change to our parks and open spaces.
Shape Your Space: Shaping the future of parks, open spaces and play through a community asset-based approach to development – local people embracing and shaping their space.
Create Your Space: Creating communities through parks, open spaces and play areas – tackling social isolation, improving physical health, and supporting wellbeing.
Celebrate Your Space: Celebrate parks, open spaces, and play – shout about their hidden value and increase usage by enabling people to have a lifelong relationship with these spaces.
Reinvigorate Your Space: Think differently about the delivery of parks, open spaces and play both operationally and strategically.
To ensure we accomplish this vision, our strategy ends with a 10-year action plan of what our teams intend to do and achieve. These actions range from creating a network for different Friends groups across the district to interact with one another, to identifying different infrastructure investment programs, all with the aim of helping local people utilise their parks and open spaces to live healthier lives, improve their mental health and wellbeing, contribute to the fight against climate change and address social isolation.
If you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share with us, please contact: OpenSpaces@Huntingdonshire.gov.uk.