ASSESSMENT OF RECREATIONAL FACILITIES IN URBAN AREAS
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1.1 Background of the Study
Increased population in Nigerian cities has led to the demand for more land spaces for land uses like residential, commercial, public, agricultural and industrial activities at the expense of recreational and open spaces (Ogundele and Jegede, 2011). This has resulted in multiple developments of squatter settlements, ghettos and illegal structures that describe our urban settings and once beautiful cities (Fasakin, 2009, Alabi, 2010 and Aluko, 2011). It is to be noted that this fast growing developments are not accompanied by necessary planning, development designs and physical planning provisions hence, unguided and uncontrolled developments are prevalent (Olujimi, 2009; Alabi, 2010 and Wald and Hosteller, 2010).
However, these huge drastic planning and developmental oversights cannot de-emphasize the unquantifiable value and need for recreational facilities in our cities today. Recreation is defined as a socially acceptable leisure experience or activity that rests men from work, brings satisfaction often by giving them a change, and restores them for work (Hutchinson and Kleiber, 2005).
Economically, He and Jia (2004) noted that parks and private planted areas surrounding buildings have a marked effect on many aspects of the quality of the urban environment and the richness of life in a city. Furthermore, in the residential community, landscape can affect the housing in the surroundings. Similarly, Chiesura (2004) contributed that, the presence of natural areas contributes to the quality of life in many ways and besides many environmental and ecological services, urban nature provide important social and psychological benefits to human societies, which enrich human life with meanings and emotions. Furthermore, Thompson (2002) acknowledged that, access to some form of “nature” is fundamental human need and therefore, a vital part of access to open space and its attendant facilities. In addition, Ahianba et al (2008) emphasized that physical environment is an important component of the environment and it is through that which organism, individual, community or population are in contact.
A well designed, landscaped and managed recreational centres and open spaces within the neighbourhood/environment can offer play areas for children. Communal space and serene environment also contribute to the quality of life and well-being. Planning for recreational areas within human dwellings is an attempt to study human needs, scientific examination of contemporary resources, demographic growth and urban expansion. Planning is not complete without the proper distribution of recreational spaces and proposals for construction of required varied facilities to provide indoor (passive) and outdoor (active) activities which make up balanced programme. The purpose of planning is to promote, extend and make available the necessary areas and physical plants for more perfect administration of public recreational service.
In developing recreational areas, factors for supply and demand are considered. The planner has a major role to play in the supply and resultant effects on landscape and also on recreational habits of the residents in urban areas. This is because leisure is essentially a matter of individual and normally reflected in the wide range of recreational activities open to him. Choice is always conditioned by certain factors such as age, marital status, income, educational background and also the availability of suitable resources and facilities to make proper use of them.
Demand as used by the planner “is the number of persons required to take part in particular recreational activities and hence is manifested in demand for facilities”. This affects the design of various locations. The recreation site has to be designed according to the demand of an area. Design is the search for forms that satisfy a programme (Lynch, 1976). It deals with particular solutions, while the programmes is concerned with general characteristics and destined outcomes. Designs with programming are modified as a design process.
However, the development and allocation of recreational land use is facing a lot challenges, owing to the fact that urban area lack sufficient recreational space, facilities and environment in the central business district where the commercial activity dominate the other land use activities.
Facilities and utilities should be provided for public conveniences. These include dustbins, public toilets, canteens, snack bars, drink bars, ice cream stand, suya joints, various field pitches, sculptures, water fountains, picnic tables, rest rooms, recreational spots and benches. Every recreational area should have a well prepared emergency plan. The plan must be specially related to activities provided; for example, size of the park, number of people using the recreational facilities and the proximity of these facilities to the users which depends particularly on the size and type of recreational area.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Uyo urban area is fast growing into a mega city. With the attendant challenge of rapid population growth, comes the need to satisfy their various residential, commercial, circulation, industrial and recreational needs. In the last century, there has been a growing interest in the improving of the quality of urban living and that of the built environment. In the western world, recreation is seen as a basic human need such as food, shelter and clothing. Provision has been made by various agencies or major players in the recreational land use allocation to meet the recreational need of the teeming masses but it is yet to be confirmed if the supply is sufficient. To assess the adequacy of the existing parks and recreation supply, it is necessary to look at existing population, the supply of passive and active recreational land use provided by existing facilities including any planned improvements or expansions, and relate them to planning standards for desirable levels of service. In addition, it is necessary to consider forecasts in future population to determine future needs and to identify deficiencies of the system.
The assessment of need for neighbourhood and community facilities varies according to the purpose and use of the facilities. Community parks and play fields are intended to function on a large–scale basis serving the parks and recreation needs. They are typically large in size (minimum 25 acres) and include facilities and improvements for area wide activities and assembly events, such as picnic areas, walking/jogging trails, ball fields, and other larger scale activities of an entire community, which may be within an urban area or a developed rural area.
Ensuring adequate and equitable recreation and leisure opportunity for all citizens is the objective of community parks. The use of neighborhood parks and playgrounds is intended for the residents of adjacent and nearby neighbourhood. Having service coverage areas that encompass the entire planning area is crucial in the location of recreational facilities. For example the location of neighborhood playground and parks in the residential neighborhoods should be within a reasonable walking distance. In addition to neighbourhood and community parks are regional facilities, which serve the needs beyond a single community to encompass several communities within the region. The service area radius of a regional park is a one-hour drive time. To provide adequate service to the population, facilities need to be evenly spaced within near proximity to the population base. This (the need gap, uneven distribution of present recreational facilities) amongst others informs the basis for the research.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to appraise recreational facilities in Uyo urban area. In order to achieve this, the objectives of the study are to:
1) Identify the location of recreational centres and facilities in Uyo urban area.
2) Assess the present state of recreational facilities in Uyo urban area.
3) Identify problems militating against the adequate and maximum utilization of recreational centres and facilities in Uyo urban area.
1.4 Research Questions
1) What types of recreational centres and facilities are available in the study area?
2) Do the recreational facilities supplies match the demand for them in Uyo urban area?
3) What is the present state of recreational facilities in Uyo urban area?
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