Nesta, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund have published a report ‘Learning to Rethink Parks’ which presents the lessons from Rethinking Parks, an 18 month programme designed to find and test ways for Britain’s parks to source new sustainable funding in the future.
Eleven UK parks received a share of £1m in grant funding and specialist support to explore new ways of raising income or reducing costs. Models tested included greater use of herbaceous and wild meadow planting, public donations, mobilising volunteers and friends groups to help with maintenance and even the creation of a pop-up meeting space.
The Parks Alliance has welcomed the report and responded.
Mark Camley, Chair of The Parks Alliance, the national voice of UK parks, said:
‘The Parks Alliance welcomes the report, which makes an important contribution to maintaining and creating future parks. There is no single solution to financing parks. The sector had been struggling with a new funding model for the last 10 to 15 years and with no ‘silver bullet’ – governance, leadership and collaboration are key. All of us who love parks should support the sector to try new business models and be brave enough to accept that some might not work. To fail fast, fail forward.
‘One of the report’s recommendations is for park teams to involve more people and the Parks Alliance is seeking to reach out and create space for further and greater community involvement. We have already established a project that will provide a model for establishing a wider connected community network of those who support the aims of the Alliance. We hope to reveal findings of the project soon and use these to take the work of the Alliance forward.’