Families will have a say in how Kirklees Council spends £9.5 million on improving playgrounds across the district.

In 2019 the council caused upset and confusion when it revealed plans to remove play equipment from more than 100 small playgrounds and replace it with ‘natural’ logs and boulders.

Now – in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic – the council has pledged to improve all its 250 play areas and will consult the public on what they want to see.

The council has stressed how important play areas are to support people’s physical and mental health and well-being, as well as encouraging interaction between different generations.

Play areas are seen as a key part of the council’s priority to tackle inequalities by helping to provide children with the best start in life and a space to encourage community cohesion.

The council plans to refresh each nominated site on a case-by-case basis, meaning each play space will be tailored to meet local community needs, and has agreed an engagement approach with local ward councillors.

Due to the large number of play spaces, there will be a rolling programme of public engagement, the first of which launched this week for Warburton Rec in Emley and Primrose Hill in Newsome.

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The feedback gathered will help shape the future design of the local play space and enhance connections to nature and the environment around them.

Clr Naheed Mather, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “No matter what your age, outdoor activities and play supports our social development, boosts our physical and mental health and brings us closer to nature.

“Never has this been more noticeable than during the last year when many of us made the most of our local outdoor spaces.

“This investment will encourage lifelong habits of physical activity and well-being by creating a range of safe, quality places for all ages and communities to enjoy.

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“Through the involvement of those living and using the spaces, as well as ward councillors – who are important community leaders – we can create spaces that help identify and characterise each local area and be a place people want to use.”

The council revised its Playable Spaces Strategy to focus on working with local communities to improve play areas.

For the latest updates and ways to get involved go to www.kirklees.gov.uk/playablespaces