Norwich's parks are to get an extra £1.1m to improve their facilities and upgrades will be made to play areas across the city.

City Hall has pledged to spend the extra money towards making improvements to the Eaton Park changing rooms, new community facilities at Sloughbottom Park, along with investment into existing play equipment.  

This funding is separate from the £7.6m awarded by the government for the regeneration of Sloughbottom Park on the Mile Cross estate, which will see a revamp of the park’s historic pavilion, a new 3G football pitch, improved changing facilities, play park improvements and upgrades made to the BMX track.

Eastern Daily Press: The extra funds will go towards the Sloughbottom Park revampThe extra funds will go towards the Sloughbottom Park revamp (Image: Antony Kelly)

At a cabinet meeting, Adam Giles, cabinet member for communities and social inclusion, said they were "delighted" that the extra £1.1m could be invested in its play area improvement programme.

A Norwich City Council spokesman added: "It is important that the council always carefully considers how best to use our resources and explores any opportunities to bring in extra funding.

"Feedback from residents consistently shows how much they value the parks and open spaces in Norwich. As well as continuing to invest in these spaces, we are in the process of developing a new long-term plan for our parks which we look forward to sharing in the near future."

Eastern Daily Press: Eaton Park on a sunny dayEaton Park on a sunny day (Image: Newsquest)

But there are questions surrounding the timing of the decision, which follows an investigation that revealed the authority was sitting on unspent funds to be used for community projects.

Norwich City Council has said the funding has come from the community infrastructure levy provided by the Greater Norwich Growth Board, as well as from section 106 payments - contributions made by property developers to support local communities in order to gain planning permission.

The announcement follows an investigation into these section 106 payments the council holds, which revealed it had £926,353 waiting to be spent.

Eastern Daily Press: The pavilion at Sloughbottom ParkThe pavilion at Sloughbottom Park (Image: Steve Adams)

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by a local democracy reporter found the authority had raised £940,353 from these payments but had only spent £14,000 in five years.

According to the FOI response, suitable projects had been identified for £509,572 of the money but £416,781 had not been matched to any projects as of December last year.

Norwich City Council insists the FOI did not lead to the proposal to allocate the money and that during the last year, it has been reviewing the needs of its parks and open spaces and the funds available in preparation for this year's budget-setting process.

READ MORE: Five parks and gardens to visit in the Norwich area

Eastern Daily Press: Lucy Galvin, leader of the Green party group at Norwich City CouncilLucy Galvin, leader of the Green party group at Norwich City Council (Image: Newsquest)

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But Norwich Green Party leader Lucy Galvin believes the decision followed the investigation into the unspent funds and has been left unimpressed that it was not used sooner.

She said: "It is scandalous the council has been sitting on nearly £1m for five years that could have been used for affordable housing, schools and improvements to parks and much-needed play areas for children.

"People in Norwich expect the council to improve their lives, not to collect money from developers and then leave it stacking up in the bank.

"The council should be on top of how much money they have and how they are going to spend it and not rely on journalists to do this for them."