Through a package of grants and expert guidance, Future Parks aims to tackle, head on, the growing financial challenges facing public parks, which is putting them at serious risk.
Local authorities and communities will be empowered to find innovative and sustainable ways to manage and fund parks and open spaces across entire towns and cities.
Managing parks differently
The desire and need to manage parks differently is clear. Eighty-one groups applied to be part of Future Parks, collectively asking for more than £60m for new plans.
The eight places, covering a population of five million people, were chosen for their ambitious and creative strategies to put green spaces right at the heart of local communities.
The projects will:
- make green spaces central to everyday community life
- give the public a bigger role in how they are managed
- ensure parks contribute more to the public’s mental and physical health
- transform the way parks are funded to secure their futures
For instance, in Islington and Camden the councils will focus on using parks and green spaces to improve health and wellbeing by developing closer links to the NHS, health providers, doctors and health charities.
The other successful places are:
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole;
- Cambridgeshire (county-wide, covering seven council areas);
Hilary McGrady, the National Trust’s Director General, said: “Today is a landmark moment for the nation’s urban parks.
“This is not just about new ways to fund and support these much-loved community spaces, but completely re-thinking the role green spaces play in our lives and how we can ensure they thrive for generations to come.”
The next two years
Over the next two years, the eight places will work together to develop tools, approaches, skills and finance to create their new way of managing green space as well as sharing their experience with other councils.