Lottery funds pool resources in £160m public parks programme

Anita Pati

The Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund have paired up for their largest joint project, in which £160m will be invested in parks across England over the next three years.

The HLF, which will administer the fund, has in the past ten years invested £400m in regenerating public parks. But it believes there is still a big job ahead.

The Big Lottery Fund hopes the Parks for People scheme will help transform parks from recreational areas to safer, more attractive community spaces for local people. The scheme will award grants ranging from £250,000 to £5m to train staff and volunteers in new skills to look after their parks.

Dame Liz Forgan, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "Parks are a good measure of local pride and integral to our sense of well-being. A run-down park that no one wants to visit reflects badly on a local area.

"We want everyone to have a nearby park they can be proud of - one offering opportunities for fun, exercise and the enjoyment of beautiful things."

The aim of the programme is to pool expertise and resources. A spokeswoman for the HLF said it made sense to work together.

"We have a shared vision of safeguarding public parks for people to use and enjoy," she said. "Through pooling resources, we are streamlining our administration processes and costs, and providing potential park applicants with an easier and clearer channel for applying for lottery money."

Luke FitzHerbert, senior researcher at the Directory of Social Change and a lottery expert, welcomed the move.

"The existing parks programme has lacked sufficient arrangements to maintain works," he said. "The combination of capital investment with the financing of the infrastructures and local support needed to keep parks in the manner to which they are now being restored, is admirable. I'm all for it."

ALSO...

Millwrighting, reed cutting, paper conservation and topiary are some of the dying skills being thrown a lifeline by the Heritage Lottery Fund's new grant of almost £7m in training bursaries.

The money supplements a £4m HLF scheme launched in 2004 to save other waning crafts from extinction.

It is estimated that the UK needs an extra 6,590 craftspeople to conserve the country's historic buildings.

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