|Photo: Highfield Regeneration Project|
After six years hard work, raising £190,000 to restore the site, reinstate tennis courts and create a multi-use games area "The Gregson@Highfield", aka the Highfield Regeneration project, will formally open on Saturday 14th September.
The opening event, orgaised by the Gregson, starts at 11.00am, and there will be stalls, food, a bar, bouncy castle, taster sessions on tennis courts, bowling greens and games area – and a chance to try out croquet!
The Highfield Regeneration Project was started a few years ago by a group of local people whose vision is to bring back into community use a once council owned and mainly derelict leisure facility with the aim of providing an outdoor community social hub that is accessible to all.
Much work has gone into putting a structure for sustainability in place and the Gregson has a 30 year lease with Lancaster City Council. Local residents have worked to raise funds to redevelop the site and ensure disabled access while the council maintains the greens and hedges and is responsible for the pavilion structure.
Highfield is in probably the most densely populated area of Lancaster, with further housing developments planned. There's little or no access to ‘on the doorstep’ recreation facilities. Over 13,000 people currently live within a 15-20minute walk of the site, including localized pockets of deprivation, often linked with poor health outcomes. The area is also served by five schools (three primary and two secondary) that have little or no such facilities and have expressed support of the project.
The team behind the project hope it will have health benefits, poiting to research by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in 2008 which identified that two in three men and three quarters of all women do not achieve recommended levels of activity for health living, therefore the need for such a facility is clear.
Life expectancy of males and females in Lancaster is, respectively, 10.4 and 7.4 years less than the national average; 16.8 of year 6 children and 21% of over 16 year olds are classed as obese.
Both the Gregson team and its backers at Lancaster City Council agree there is a real need for informal, free or “pay and play” facilities in Lancaster and that the project will greatly benefit the community and the many schools in the area.
"The Gregson Communtiy Association is grateful to all the funders of this project," a spokesperson told virtual-lancaster, "and to Lancashire County Council for its generous funding and even more generous provison of officer time over the last 6 years."
Entry to the launch event is free – so get along and support this project.
• Highfield is located at the corner of Derwent Road and Quernmore Road and there is fully accessible level access.
• Followed the Highfield Regeneration Project their facebook page