Sheffield Green Party welcomed the Council’s recent consultation on the breathing spaces strategy for the city centre and has submitted a response. Central ward Green Councillor Rob Murphy, who represents the city centre, comments :
“Breathing spaces are vital to the well being of a city and its residents. Evidence points to many health and environmental benefits, which in turn can have a positive impact on the economy. Around 15000 live in the city centre and many people work there. They don’t realise how close they are to the riverside walks, Weston Park, Botanical Gardens, Mount Pleasant park or the new Sheaf Valley Park. If there was better signage, people might learn to use these. ‘
‘The draft strategy focuses on brand new “iconic” pocket parks but positive breathing spaces can take lots of forms. Parks and riverside areas are obvious examples but even areas that look unpromising can play an important part. The Sustainable Communities Act identified the use of brown field sites until a developer moves in for food growing, but it could be for a park as well. Temporary sites such as the Wellington St car park often wait years for development. So planting a row of trees round the edges could have provided a long term benefit for the city.’
‘It’s important that a strategy for breathing spaces is woven together with other proposals, such as building developments and transport changes, so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Local people, both residents and workers, should be encouraged to play an active part in designing and maintaining good breathing spaces. However, city centre forums and residents groups need encouragement and strengthening. So a real gap in community engagement in the city centre needs to be addressed for healthy breathing spaces to happen. “
1. Rob Murphy is one of the Green Party councillors representing Central ward, which covers the city centre and Kelham Island.
2. The Council’s consultation on its city centre breathing spaces strategy can be found at http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/planning-and-city-development/regeneration/schemes/breathing-spaces-strategy