Creating a healthy future for Huddersfield


A healthy future for Huddersfield?

Creating a country park for Huddersfield could help to reduce the health inequalities that exist within Kirklees.

According to the Health Profile 2014 and 2015, produced by Public Health England, Kirklees contains some of the most deprived areas in England, and the health of local people is varied compared with the England average. Deprivation is higher than average and life expectancy for both men and women is lower than the England average, with 21.8% of adults classified as obese (2012 data) and early deaths and long term unemployment from cardiovascular disease being worse than the national average.

It’s widely acknowledged, however, that access to green open space can have a beneficial impact on people’s health. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) recently published its City Health Check, which stated that: ‘areas with the poorest health outcomes had the least amount of green space’. According to the report, opening up green spaces and creating more places for people to walk could ease the nation’s obesity epidemic and save the UK £1bn a year.

A report from Kirklees entitled Change the Way You Think, The Kirklees Director of Public Health Executive Summary – 2014 stated that: ‘Every 10% increase in exposure to green space reduced the risk of expected health problems by five years.’

“Around 70% of the land in Kirklees is designated green belt, yet it’s not always easy for local people to access the countryside on their doorstep, especially those in more deprived areas,” said Paul Sykes, Director Farnley Estates.

Awareness of public footpaths, travel costs, public transport availability, location and distance are all potential barriers for people wanting to visit the countryside.

“With Farnley Country Park, we want to create a location where local people know they can visit, free of charge, for walking, running and cycling. Although this is a 25-year plan, we’ve already spoken with public transport operators, including buses and trains, about the option for improved services if we can demonstrate an increase in demand,” said Paul.

When you consider that the World Health Organisation considers childhood obesity as one of the most serious global health challenges for the 21st century, giving people within Kirklees easy access to the countryside on their doorstep has to be a step in the right direction.  

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