New parks report will be less optimistic

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will publish a second State of UK Public Parks report next summer to reflect changes since the first was published in 2014.

Parks: lack of optimism (credit: Morgue)
Parks: lack of optimism (credit: Morgue)

It could make for grim reading, according to head of landscape and natural heritage Drew Bennellick. Giving the London Parks & Gardens Trust summer lecture he said the first report, which warned that park quality would decline dramatically if budget cuts continue, was "too optimistic" in outlook.

The nature of funding applications is also changing, he added, with fewer requests for capital funding and more requests to help friends' groups, improve income generation and boost sustainability.

But those applicants still asking for capital investment grants "need to think far more carefully about long-term viability", he said. Such requests often have no maintenance budget included, despite grant winners being contractually obligated to keep the heritage site in good order for up to 25 years.

The HLF is continuing to monitor the parks in which it has invested through parks adviser Shaun Kiddell, whose position was made permanent earlier this year. Since 2013 Kiddell has been going undercover in parks to check on the HLF's investments.

HLF spokesperson Natasha Ley said the results have been encouraging, with most parks managers pleased that the HLF is protecting its investment. "Of the 160-plus sites that Shaun has visited, only a handful have shown significant problems with the quality of maintenance. In all cases these issues have been followed up."

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