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· Amy Glover

A holistic environment for healing children

Proposals to expand Springfield Park to create the first children's hospital in Europe to be integrated within a park

Proposals have been submitted to expand Springfield Park in Liverpool to create the first children’s hospital in Europe to be integrated within a park.

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has a once in a lifetime vision to deliver a living health campus that is driven by children and young people’s wishes.

Cullinan Studio has been working with landscape architect Turkington Martin to design an enlarged, connected and improved park that will allow the hospital to benefit from the natural environment and empower the local community to interact with nature to improve their health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Springfield Park - Overview of the proposals

Both Liverpool and the NHS aspires to reduce social and health inequalities and provide opportunities for lifelong learning focused around the natural environment. Extensive research shows that access to nature greatly improves health outcomes, including reducing blood pressure and helping to combat depression. This unique project promotes objectives raised by Public Health England, education wellbeing agendas and the idea of social prescribing for health and wellbeing. The aspirations for Springfield Park are ambitious and leading in the field of healthcare.

Alder Hey’s exciting development programme includes interactive woodland walks, public health activities such as growing food for consumption in the hospital and forest schools – a unique form of outdoor learning reconnecting urban children with nature.

Springfield Park - illustrative view of the new play area

The initial masterplan, recently submitted for planning, will include multi-use sports facilities, natural and organised play areas, a community orchard and a large central green providing a flexible space for a range of seasonal events and activities including concerts, outdoor cinema, softball, junior football and local schools’ sports days. The desire for community and social facilities as a destination in the park became apparent during consultation, therefore future proposals include a café and a city farm. Interacting with animals and nature can benefit individual’s wellbeing and speed up the recovery process. Farming activities also provide a sense of achievement for those who may struggle in a traditional learning environment.

Louise Shepherd, Alder Hey’s Chief Executive said: “Our aim has always been to create something really special for local people, children and young people, visitors and Alder Hey staff. Following consultation with local stakeholders including the Friends of Springfield Park, local resident’s groups, councillors and schools, it became apparent that there was a desire to reinstate a much improved park to what had been there previously. We are now embarking on the delivery phase of exciting plans and we will work closely with our friends locally to create something of real value to everyone in the area.”

Roddy Langmuir, Practice Leader at Cullinan Studio said: “Extending and re-imagining a park like Springfield for the local community is a rare chance to counter the relentless urban expansion of our cities. For this Park also to become the setting for healthcare makes it unique. Connection our health services with the restorative power of nature at Alder Hey could be a beacon for the future of the NHS.”

Alex Abbey, Project Director at Cullinan Studio said: “We have really enjoyed meeting the many interest groups associated with Springfield Park and responding to their positive feedback to make this the best place it can be. This project has been many years in its planning, and we are delighted to help realise their long-term vision and rejuvenate Springfield Park for all.”

Mike Martin, Director at Turkington Martin said: “Our starting point was understanding and interpreting the aspirations of the local community and the ambitions of Trust. We were particularly struck by the enthusiasm and positive contribution made by the young adults who attended the many stakeholder workshops and presentations. There appears a real drive now to make this happen and deliver a park that everyone is proud of.”

We continue to work closely with the local community, partner groups, the Hospital and Liverpool City Council to develop the vision.

Springfield Park - illustrative view of the new flexible green

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