The £250,000 development will provide a progressive, inclusive and accessible community asset for the park and further contribute to Sheffield’s plans to promote and encourage cycling in the city.
The “all-wheeled” bike park will be created in such a way that it will be able to support more than just mountain bikes, with the tarmac development also suitable for scooters, roller blades and skateboards.
The facility will include a learn to ride area, a beginners section and an advanced section, allowing all ages and abilities to use the facility and develop their confidence and skills.
The bike park will also form the basis for a Sheffield Hallam research project assessing the potential impact this facility and activation programme has on participants mental and social wellbeing, with a specific focus on children and young people who do not normally participate in this kind of physical activity.
Dr Gareth Jones, who is leading the research from the University’s Academy for Sport and Physical Activity, said: “The facility and activation programme will provide the local community with a fantastic asset to support people of all ages to live active lifestyles, bolster health and wellbeing, as well as build a solid foundation for a lifelong fundamental skill in learning to ride a bike.
“This research aspect of this project is very exciting as non-traditional sports, that have the ability to be structured and non-structured, have received little to no research to understand the potential impact facilities like this could have on community health and wellbeing. This is a real chance to plug that knowledge gap.”
"Creating new cycling opportunities for people of all ages"
Dr Anna Lowe, Programme Manager for the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, said: “I am absolutely delighted that this all wheeled bike park now has planning permission, it is a great step forward in this ambitious project.
“The new bike park will be a fantastic asset for Hillsborough and for Sheffield; it will create new cycling opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get active and will encourage more people to enjoy one of Sheffield’s many beautiful green spaces.”
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “This exciting new bike park will provide excellent modern cycling facilities for all. It’s a fantastic example of partnership working, drawing on expertise and national initiatives in response to the needs of our communities.
“Not only will it be a great attraction for visitors to Hillsborough Park, but it will enable those with barriers to cycling, such as disabilities, affordability and access, to develop their skills and a love for travelling on wheels.
“Hillsborough Park is one of our finest public spaces and we have great plans for its future as a destination park – it’s the perfect home for this new facility.
“It’s great to see the park’s future on track, and, with the new Coach House facility also being developed, things are looking up for Hillsborough, its fantastic park and the local community.”
The project, which was granted planning permission in August, is part of a collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, Access Sport and Move More.
Access Sport is an award winning national charity that specialises in delivering facilities and programmes which normalise youth, inclusion and diversity in cycling, supporting people from typically underrepresented groups to kick-start a lifelong love of cycling, leading to cycling for sport, recreation and travel.
It will also provide the hub for a community outreach programme connecting with local schools and community groups to make sure that all members of society benefit, such as individuals who wouldn’t attend on their own and young people that don’t have access to a bike, can’t ride a bike or aren’t active in in any way.
Consultation was undertaken in Autumn 2019 with local stakeholders, users of the park, and the wider community, to gauge support for the proposed bike park.
This identified an overwhelming level of support from the local community for the bike park concept, with 91% of the 860 respondents supporting the project.
Respondents highlighted that the facility would be a positive addition to the park which would provide a unique, inclusive, and accessible facility for all ages to take part in fun, active and healthy leisure activity.
The all-wheeled bike park is an example of the importance of parks as hubs for cycling facilities and healthy and fun physical activity for all ages and abilities, further supporting the Move More agenda and the appeal of the Outdoor City for outdoor sports and recreation.
Through the partnership with Access Sport the facility is backed by Sport England and the London Marathon Charitable Trust.
Further funding towards the project is being provided by Sheffield City Council’s Parks & Countryside Service public health funded programme of improvements. In total the partnership has secured more than £250,000 towards delivering the bike park, as well as support from British Cycling.
Planning permission was granted in August 2020, and over the next few months the facility will be procured and final designs for the bike park completed.
It is expected that the bike park will be constructed and fully open to the public by late Spring 2021.