Royal Parks Agency will apply to become a charity

The government body is set to form a new organisation with the Royal Parks Foundation, the charity that carries out fundraising for the parks

Bushy Park, south-west London
Bushy Park, south-west London

The government body the Royal Parks Agency has been given the go-ahead to apply to become a charity.

The agency, which is part of the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, plans to leave the department and join the Royal Parks Foundation, the charity that carries out fundraising for the parks, to form a new, independent charitable body.

The DCMS has given its approval to the plans and the agency is preparing an application to register the new merged body as a charity. The agency hopes to be able to launch the new body by the end of the year.

Last year, the agency spent £36.6m on managing the parks, which cover 5,000 acres, all in Greater London, and include Hyde Park, Greenwich Park and St James’s Park.

A DCMS grant covered 35 per cent of the costs. The remaining 65 per cent was generated through events, sponsorship, donations, catering, grants, lottery funding, licences, rental income from lodges, filming and photography.

A new board of trustees will be appointed, beginning with the role of chair, which according to a statement on the foundation’s website will be advertised shortly.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission confirmed it had met representatives of the agency and had provided advice on its proposal and the requirements of charitable status.

"We have not yet received an application and will consider any such application on its merits once submitted," he said.

Andrew Scattergood, chief executive of the Royal Parks Agency, said: "This is an exciting new era for the royal parks – one that will see evolution rather than revolution.

"What the public see from the parks won’t change dramatically, but how we manage them will."

Sara Lom, chief executive of the Royal Parks Foundation, described the parks as one of Britain’s greatest national treasures, which needed to be supported.

She said: "Generous private donors, sponsors and supporters have, to date, contributed more than £16.5m through the foundation for the benefit of visitors and wildlife in the royal parks, and this wonderful new charity, created by two organisations, will build on this success."

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "The royal parks are a tremendous asset for our capital, offering Londoners an oasis of calm from the hustle and bustle of city life.

"I fully support the creation of this new organisation, which will give the parks a stronger financial footing, and it’s now vital it remains shackle-free to attract further investment to maintain the phenomenally high standards for the millions of visitors it attracts each year."

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