Today’s State of UK Public Parks report from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) revealed that our parks face a real risk of terminal decline, unless action is taken now to adapt and change our approach to managing and funding this popular public service.
Helen Ghosh, Director-General of the National Trust said “Today’s report from HLF is an important wake-up call for all who care about the benefits parks bring to communities. Together, we must develop innovative solutions to secure the future of parks, with an ambition and spirit that reflects people’s passion for their local parks.”
People care passionately about their parks. In the past decade visits have risen to 2.6 billion a year, 9 in 10 families with young children visit their local park at least once a month and, in the past three years, the numbers of people joining parks’ friends and user groups has increased. For many, their local park is the natural space with which they have the strongest connection – the park is their special place.
The National Trust strongly endorses HLF’s call for innovation, collaboration and new investment. The traditional model for funding public parks is breaking down and we need bold new solutions that can be adapted to work in any city and town. Since making a strategic commitment to help safeguard the nation’s public parks, the National Trust has brought together key partners to innovate and collaborate to develop the best practical solutions to secure our cities’ parks and greenspaces for the next generation.
The Trust will be launching the results of this work at a Future Parks Conference on 20th October co-hosted with Social Finance and Winckworth Sherwood. Their aim is to inspire, inform and enable Local Authority Parks’ Directors to transform their parks’ services for the future.
An important step in this journey is to understand the full value of parks and all the benefits they bring. On 27th September, The National Trust and Vivid Economics will publish the first natural capital account for a whole city’s parks and greenspaces at the Prosperous Cities Conference.
Helen Ghosh, concluded “Millions of people love and cherish their local parks. They are vital to our sense of well-being, our identity and our health. We all know great parks make great places, attracting talent, jobs and investment. The UK has benefited from a parks renaissance over the last 20 years. Let’s not squander this through complacency and inaction. There are huge opportunities to grow the benefits parks bring communities, but it requires a fresh ambition, committed action and investment from us all.”
Further sources of information
The Government’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment 2015 demonstrates how much people care about their parks.
The National Trust launched its ten year strategy Playing Our Part in March 2015.