Rethinking Parks: Exploring new business models for parks in the 21st century
Published in Nesta in November 2013.
The report highlights the need for new business models to run parks, given recent cuts in government funding. Rethinking Parks diagnoses the current challenges, surveys parks innovations already making an impact and scopes out the areas we assess as having the greatest potential for innovation. The report discusses 20 examples of parks innovators in the UK, and internationally.
The most promising areas worthy of further exploration for ensuring public parks continue to thrive are: changes in park management and maintenance, new organisational structures, more diverse funding sources, and identifying new uses for parks.
This report coincides with the launch of Rethinking Parks, a new Nesta, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BLF) programme to find and support parks innovators to develop, implement and spread new approaches to sustaining and making the most of UK public parks. Over two years, the programme will back a small number of parks innovators to test and scale new business models to enable public parks to thrive in the 21st century.
- Public parks are an essential part of the social life and fabric of communities across the UK. They are heavily used, much loved and add considerably to the liveability and amenity of our towns and cities. More than 90 per cent of people in the UK use their local park.
- Many of the UK’s public parks face an uncertain future with a reduction of up to 60 per cent in public subsidy looming, putting their management and maintenance at risk.
- While public subsidy will remain a big part of the picture, new approaches to managing parks are needed.
- Within the UK examples already exist of new ways to think about how to sustain our public parks. These include long-term management by ‘Friends of’ groups and enabling charities to provide day to day management in lieu of rent for use of facilities.
- Successful parks business models include new models of management, funding and organisation, often involving community, social and private enterprises.
- The report suggests four existing income generation models (already in operation), worth further exploration by parks innovators:
- Generating income through concessions and events
- Generating income through taxation
- Generating income through ecosystem development
- Generating income through commercial developments
- The most promising areas worthy of further exploration for ensuring public parks continue to thrive are:
- changes in park management and maintenance
- new organisational structure partnerships
- more diverse sources of funding and resources
- Explore new uses and activities within parks
- Opportunities exist too for parks to play a long term role in tackling climate change, in helping patients manage long-term conditions, in fighting the obesity epidemic and in providing opportunities for children to learn about food growth.
You can read and download the report on the Nesta website.