A brand new wellbeing space in York?



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A brand new wellbeing space in York?

A public meeting is taking place next week (18th October – sadly I’m away so can’t attend) to discuss the future of Bootham Park Hospital. Inspired by life experience, here’s my blue sky thinking of what this huge, City Centre space could be.

I would love to see the outdoor space at Bootham Park used as an interesting, exciting and active place for families. And  I would completely rip up the rule book of what a public park looks like, and get residents to design it from a blank piece of paper. How about this for starters…..

  • A new, 21st Century play park – not the boring standard equipment found in every park across England
  • an outdoor gym designed and run by someone like Move the Masses,
  • a Lido/outdoor pool like those I visited this summer in Berlin,
  • an adults play area (why do kids get all the fun? Imagine grown up tig, or floor is lava? This is a personal lifetime ambition of mine – a creepy crawlies for us big kids!),
  • lower mobility areas, such as a petanque terrain (ok, I had to Google what the pitch is called!), chess or dominoes tables,
  • maybe a maze and a sensory garden
  • an area for food/makers stalls on a weekend,
  • and a stage for music/performance etc etc

Ideally most of it would be free to access (perhaps the Lido/pool would have to command a fee?), so it’s fully inclusive and accessible to everyone, regardless of disposable income. There would be fully accessible equipment across the site as standard.

Finance and sustainability are big areas that would require further consideration – and any sane person would look at the above and scream “where’s the money going to come from to do this!?”. Could a huge collaborative bid be put forward by a large group of interested partners to some of the big charitable funds, national pots of money, and space-making organisations? Just think about all the people who would be interested – from family groups like Mumbler, through to disability groups like SNAPPY. Social isolation organisations like Activ8, and children’s charities like The Island. Private sector design and build teams, engineering firms and companies across the leisure industry. We could pull in a huge amount of expertise in the City, from landscape architects to builders. Kind of a massive, city-wide DIY SOS…. maybe minus Nick Knowles?

And rather than be prescriptive about what we want, let’s put the design out to tender, and invite landscape architects, designers and inventors from across the world to submit their ideas. We have a world-class museum in York (NRM), why not think big and go for a world-class public space too?

This would take a leap of faith from the local authority and politicians, as it would be a bold, brave project that perhaps wouldn’t capitalise on the instant 7 or 8 figure sum that a sale to the private sector would achieve. In my opinion, this space should be available and accessible to every resident in York, regardless of age, gender, physical mobility or socio-economic status.

Anyway, that’s my tuppence worth. What are your thoughts? Let me know below, or on twitter – @socialvisionuk. Here’s some inspiration of places I’ve been to get you started


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