Last week the scheme, funded by HLF and Big Lottery Fund, announced £32m of new funding grants to 12 projects across the UK, covering 157ha of public land. "We expected a big dip as people didn't have the resources to apply, so it's really encouraging," said Bennellick.
"It's probably down to those local authorities that understand the value of what we do, and are thinking about the future and how they can invest in a site now to make it more sustainable."
Resources and training for volunteers and plans for working with partners such as friends groups are becoming more common, with a "healthy amount" - around 15 per cent - going towards activities. Applicants are also thinking carefully about long-term maintenance of their projects.
Bennellick said he is more concerned for those projects that are just completing, many of which started before austerity hit parks budgets. "Those projects were conceived at a time when it was accepted that local authorities paid for parks maintenance with no problems. But funding has changed completely over the past three, four years, so projects are coming through that didn't think about maintenance funding at the outset.
"Obviously the parks world is pretty desperate out there, but we've seen some good creative stuff coming through. There are pockets of excellence still around, but it's an incredibly mixed picture."
Bennellick cited Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham with its Green Manifesto as "local authorities that really 'get' parks" and are prioritising them, but warned that they are "slipping off the agenda" in other areas.
Parks for People - Initial funding and confirmed grants to date
Hirst Park, Ashington £2,389,200 including £139,300 development grant
Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted £952,200 including £73,600 development grant
Sheffield General Cemetery Park £3,528,000 including £429,600 development grant
South Metropolitan £4,845,800 including (West Norwood) Cemetery, London £241,000 development grant
Staunton Country Park, Havant £2,972,700 including £122,700 development grant
Brompton Cemetery, London £3,934,400
Page Park, South Gloucestershire £1,627,200
Pump Room Gardens, Leamington Spa £995,600
Rhyddings Park, Oswaldtwistle £1,389,300
Rivington Terraced Gardens, Chorley £3,414,100