The Cannock Chase Wayfinding Project aims to help residents increase their physical activity through walking, by boosting existing facilities in the district.
Sport England has awarded £199,050 towards the scheme, which involves Cannock Chase, Staffordshire County and Hednesford Town councils, alongside accountable body Together Active and Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, which runs leisure services in the district.
A report to Cannock Chase Council’s cabinet said: “The aim of this wayfinding project is to connect local communities actively and emotionally from the Hednesford North Ward to Cannock Chase via the existing Chase Heritage Trail using innovative and community co-designed wayfaring tools, physical infrastructure improvements and engaging digital content.
“The route will incorporate artistically co-designed rest stops inspired by the natural beauty of Cannock Chase to support people with mobility issues, long term conditions and young families; to reduce access barriers, aid progression and build confidence through goal setting.
“The rest stops will be co-designed through active engagement with community groups and the active engagement of the community is embedded throughout the project. These rest stops will also incorporate distance way markers, with embedded digital QR codes, to measure increases in distance walked and provide personal fitness targets.
“Each of the QR codes will be interactive and themed. For example, one of the themes will incorporate living histories and sites of historic interest, including Brindley Village site, Cannock Museum and RAF Hednesford Camp.”
Cannock Chase Council’s new cabinet members welcomed the windfall at their first meeting last Thursday.
The authority is currently developing a new healthy lifestyle app for residents, Cannock Chase Can, to help them monitor their eating habits and physical activity. And next year Cannock Chase Forest will welcome visitors from all over the world when it hosts the 2022 Commonwealth Games’ mountain biking event.
Councillor Adrienne Fitzgerald, the new cabinet member for housing, heritage and leisure, said: “The focus of the wayfinding project is Hednesford North, which experiences high levels of health inequality.
“The core outcomes will be increased physical activity through enabling easier increased distance walking, increased access to Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and improved wellbeing through connection to environment and open spaces. The Cannock Can app will be linked into this.”
Council leader Olivia Lyons said: “I think anything we can do to improve the health and lifestyles of residents is absolutely crucial.
“Now is the perfect opportunity to do that because a lot of people have had time to spend more time outdoors during lockdowns. It is a great project.”
Deputy leader Bryan Jones added: “As a Hednesford councillor I enjoy walking over the Chase and recognise the value of exercise.
“We have to be realistic – we do have a problem with health and obesity in parts of Cannock Chase. Anything this administration can do to assist wellbeing for residents is fantastic and I fully support this.”