Active Environments

Strategic Priority

Active Environments

Working towards the strategic priority of Active Environments, Active Essex have been strengthening relationships across the sector and beyond to develop and provide well connected, accessible places and spaces that encourage residents to be active.

Active Essex have been working hard through various funding pots and relationships with stakeholders across the county to maximise outdoor opportunities for residents to engage with activities in Essex’s wealth of green and blue spaces. Expanding delivery of interventions that encourage the use of active travel, has been a key focus for the Active Environments strategic priority team, with particular focus on gamification and system collaboration with Essex County Council teams.

As part of Active Essex’s cross team collaboration, this year has seen Ford RideLondon-Essex confirmed for the next 3 years, working with external partners to amplify Essex and showcase the benefits of holding mass participation events. Similarly, strengthened relationships with other Essex County Council colleagues has helped the team to shape existing and future developments by embedding physical activity and sport into planning policy, infrastructure and urban design.


Active outdoors

Active Essex have continued to work collaboratively with the Port of London Authority, ParkPlay and parkrun to promote free/low-cost activities using green and blue space, which are accessible, attractive and socially inclusive. As part of the active outdoors focus, this year saw the delivery of 5 Find Your Active festivals to highlight the use of local green spaces and local opportunities for residents. The Find Your Active Basildon festival engaged 300 people in its second year and the event was supported by 15 local organisations.

The 2023 Active Thames funding, in partnership with Port of London Authority awarded £150,000 in grants to 23 projects across London, Kent and Essex. Active Thames received 14 applications from Essex organisations, and in 2023, 5 of these applications were supported. Active Essex contributed £10,000 to the pot this year, therefore the ROI = every £1 spent gained a further £2.60 investment into Essex projects. Continued relationships have also been maintained with 4 Active Thames funding recipients from the previous year.


Take a look at our case studies

Active Environments

The Active Thames Partnership

Providing funding for groups and organisations who wish to activate the waterways in Essex.

Active Thames
Active Environments

Activating on and near the waterways

Read all about how the Active Thames funding supporting Southend to amplify their offer.

Active Thames in Southend
Sport and Physical Activity

Opportunities for over 50's

Bringing communities together to get active in Essex's blue spaces.


Another successful partnership with ParkPlay was continued this past year, with new locations being launched up and down the county. After a target of 18 venues which were aspired to be achieved by the end of the financial year, this is well on track.

ParkPlay attendances in Essex this year
ParkPlay locations now take place across Essex
attendances at ParkPlay since Spring 2021

Additional funding was provided to support this strategic priority this year through the Find Your Active Places and Spaces fund, thanks to London Marathon Foundation, following Ford RideLondon-Essex 2023.

The funding pot offered the opportunity to support organisations who wished to improve facilities and assets to make spaces fit for purpose, encouraging priority audiences to access more physical activity opportunities. Receiving 36 applications requesting over £250,000, 13 of these projects were successful receiving £102,000, but leveraging in a further £229,473 towards their delivery.


Places and Spaces funding case studies

Funding from London Marathon Foundation

Dive deeper in to the Places and Spaces funding pot, and the impact of the funding.

London Marathon Foundation
Active Environments

Peaceful Place Allotment

A places and spaces funded project to support those with early onset dementia.


Active travel

By expanding interventions such as Beat the Street, Street Tag and Go Jauntly, Active Essex have been encouraging more active journeys. Most recently, a successful Public Health Accelerator Bid has resulted in confirmation of a Beat the Street programme beginning in Mid Essex in late spring.

Ensuring active travel is accessible and open to all, Essex has expanded their inclusive cycling offer by continuing their work with Wheels4All, and launching a Sport for Confidence Inclusive Cycling hub in Basildon, with SHARE respite also receiving funding to set up an inclusive offer. In total these projects have supported over 120 residents living with a disability to take up cycling.

Active Travel is one of the main objectives set out in the Essex Pedal Power programme which has expanded significantly in the past year. The free bike initiative is now taking place in Canvey Island, Colchester, Basildon, Harwich and Dovercourt, as well as the initial pilot in Clacton and Jaywick.


Take a look at specific Active Travel case studies

Strengthening Communities

Essex Pedal Power initiative

The free bike scheme has become embedded across Essex, increasing active travel.

Essex Pedal Power
Active Environments

Summer of Cycling

Essex cycle Grant funding provided a series of events along the sunshine coast.

Cycling in the sun
Active Environments

Gamification Projects

Using technology to encourage residents to increase their physical activity levels.

bikes have been distributed to eligible residents
applications have been received for Essex Pedal Power
children bikes have been given out to-date

Further system collaboration with Essex County Council Sustainable Travel team, Green Infrastructure, Place Services and local planning teams has helped to position physical activity across further agendas, and continued to strengthen Active Essex’s involvement in the Essex Cycle Grant.

Consequently, this has also contributed to an allocation of the grant budget being used towards Ford RideLondon-Essex 2024 activation within communities.

Active Essex have acted a conduit to bring different services together to solve common problems.
Sustainable Transport Team Member

Mass Participation Events

Working in collaboration with local authorities, Essex County Council and London Marathon Events, held another successful Ford RideLondon-Essex event.

Helping leverage funding and economic growth into the county from the event and subsequently London Marathon Foundation, it was agreed that the 3-day event would return for the next 3 years.


Contributing to Essex County Council’s Net Zero targets, promoting active travel for short journeys and encouraging sustainable travel habits, has been the foundation of working on this project. Through the activation zones over the ride weekend, Active Essex offered funding to organisations, clubs and schools as a result.

Work has also begun on the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex event, with parish engagement events taken place, the Essex Association of Local Councils are now on board for another year. Currently, community rides are being developed and school engagement plans have been drawn up.

businesses supported with funding for the 2023 event
activation zones across the 2023 weekend delivered
riders took part in the 2023 mass participation ride

Read our Ford RideLondon-Essex case study here

Active Environments

Ford RideLondon-Essex 2023

The event, the benefits and what has followed since May 2023.

Ford Ride London Essex 2023

Planning and infrastructure

Embedding physical activity into planning policy, infrastructure and urban design has been at the forefront of working with planning and design colleagues to champion and advocate the implementation of the Essex Design Guide, and increasing sign ups to the Essex Livewell Accreditation scheme.

Earlier this year, Sport England launched their Active Design 3 Guidance. Active Essex were keen to highlight the usefulness of this guidance document to a wide range of partners, both traditional ones like local authority planners and urban designers, but also active and sustainable travel teams and health colleagues. In Autumn 2023, Active Essex worked with Sport England and Active Environment Officers in Colchester City Council and Basildon Borough Council to deliver a webinar to 58 partners, showcasing some of the ways Active Design 3 is already having a positive influence on active environments across the county.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIP) have been enhanced with Sustainable Travel colleagues with a strong desire to complete a LCWIP in each of the 12 Essex authorities by the end of the Fit for the Future life cycle. In addition, Active Essex have taken on an avid role in local authority Place Pitch Strategy meetings, and ensured the sectors strategy links with local development plans to guide future investment decisions.