£1m public parks programme launched

Rethinking Parks will award grants to support ideas for making green spaces financially sustainable

Parks programme launched
Parks programme launched

Charities and voluntary organisations have been invited to apply for a share of £1m of funding intended to support innovative ideas for making public parks financially sustainable.

The Rethinking Parks programme, which is being run jointly by Nesta, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund, opened for applications today.

A statement from the funders said the programme had been set up in response to a projected fall of 60 per cent over the next decade in public sector funding for discretionary and non-statutory services, such as parks.

Ambitious new business, management and partnership models were needed to create financially sustainable public parks, the organisations added.

The programme is offering funding of up to £100,000 for each project, plus a package of non-financial support.

Park managers and those responsible for park funding and maintenance will be given help in testing new options for generating income and managing their parks, the funders’ statement said.

Interested parties are being encouraged to take part in workshops that will be held around the country and online in January, to help develop ideas.

Any organisation or individual can apply for a share of the £1m. The successful applicants will be announced next summer.

Vicki Sellick, director of the Rethinking Parks programme, said: "Parks have an inherent value in providing space for rest, relaxation and to connect with nature. But with public subsidies diminishing, public parks could easily become overlooked. We need new ways of generating income for parks, new ways of getting communities involved and new ways of getting under-used green spaces used again. We need to rethink parks."

Nesta has published a report, Rethinking Parks: Exploring New Business Models for Parks in the 21stCentury, to coincide with the launch of the programme.

The report looks at existing ideas and innovations for managing parks across the programme’s four themes: to support changes in park management and maintenance systems; to encourage new organisational partnerships; to identify more diverse sources of funding and resources; and to explore new uses and activities within parks.

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