One of the best reasons for living in or near Headingley is the outstanding beauty and diversity of our parks. Right on our doorstep we have the Hollies, Meanwood Park, Woodhouse Ridge, Beckett Park, West Park Fields, Woodhouse Moor and the smaller Sparrow Park and Dagmar Wood. All are valued by us and each has its very own distinct identity. On this website we are in the process of visually documenting their histories, showing how they look today, and showcasing walks through them.
However we are very concerned about their future. How can we further develop and sustain them, especially in these times of very deep cuts in local government funding?
We are not alone in this. From 2015-2017, a team of researchers at the University of Leeds working with Leeds City Council has pursued a major study of public parks in Leeds. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the study explored the social purpose of the city’s parks and their future prospects, both at the time they were created (in the Victorian era) and in the present day.
They conducted a city-wide survey of how people use and value their parks, alongside more detailed research on three case-study sites, including Woodhouse Moor. You can find out more about their research via their website: https://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/about/ The researchers also collected images of Leeds parks, past and present, which are available through Leodis : http://leodiscollections.net/collection/10
We need to state clearly the value of our parks and make sure we secure sufficient, sustainable resources for their upkeep. This has led the University to a new line of research. It is investigating the role members of the public and business might play in supporting parks, including through charitable donations. The team are very keen for people to give their views on this via an online survey. There are separate surveys for residents (https://leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/leeds-residents-survey-charitable-giving-to-parks) and for businesses (https://leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/leeds-business-survey-charitable-giving-to-parks).
So for the sake of the future of our parks, please fill in the survey. You might also consider making a charitable donation or legacy to the Leeds Park Fund. You can also find on our website contact details of our local voluntary Friends of Parks groups who work tirelessly to ensure our parks are well maintained and a pleasure to visit (go to Green Groups). Why not join the one near you and give them a hand?
Dr David Churchill
School of Law, University of Leeds