Lottery-funded schemes launch

New grants worth £135m are to become available as programmes delivering the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces initiative launch this spring.

The first of five schemes is the Groundwork UK-managed Community Spaces programme, set to open on 19 March.

The £50m funding pot aims to create better local environments and increase people's access to spaces for play and recreation.

Eligible projects include village greens, community gardens and parks, sports areas and multi-use games areas. Grants range from £10,000 to £450,000.

Natural England-led scheme Access to Nature will launch on 7 April. Statutory bodies and community organisations may apply.

The programme will run until 2014 but grants will be awarded in 2008, 2009 and 2010. One objective of the £25m scheme is to benefit 1.7 million people with opportunities to gain skills and enjoy the natural environment.

Access to Nature adviser Joanna Watson said: "The money hasn't been ring-fenced into regional pots but we'll be looking for an equitable spread across the country."

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