One of the first projects undertaken by Hirst Wood Regeneration Group was to lobby for improvements in the playing fields at the junction of Dallam Avenue and Hirst Lane.As it stood, it was just a large field with a couple of football goals, very welcome but not providing the local kids with much to do.With the support of our local councillors we managed to persuade the council to install a superb children’s playground. Colourful and exciting but with the latest safety flooring and fenced off, it has become a first-choice destination for young children who enjoy the swings, slides and roundabouts.
Three steps to a great playing area
Next we turned our attention to the teenagers. There were some complaints from residents that groups of youngsters were hanging around street corners and when challenged, the reply from the young people was: ‘there’s nothing else to do round here.’Fortunately, at about the time we started to look for solutions to this problem, Bradford Council sold its stake in Leeds-Bradford Airport and allocated the profits between local council wards to spend on major projects.Our Green Party councillors agreed that one of the priorities was to add an all-weather, multi-sports area to the playground - perfect for basketball, netball, cricket and five-a-side football. We launched it with basketball coaching sessions by Bradford Dragons and the MACA (left) has been a big hit with young people in the area.The final piece of the jigsaw was to provide somewhere for teenagers to ‘hang out’, sheltered from the rain. Again the need was highlighted by complaints that they were using the bus shelter and obstructing the pavement as well as making a noise near local houses.A successful application to the National Lottery raised enough money to install a specially designed ‘youth pod’ (right) which stands in the far corner of the playing fields, by the railway bridge, giving the youngsters a private area where they can meet up with friends without disturbing other residents.Thse three projects have transformed the Hirst Wood playing fields and few communities can boast better facilities for their young people.
Above, stages in the making of the playground; Right, the grand opening