Tax rebates for parks volunteers and developer endowments could pay for parks, new Policy Exchange report suggests

Volunteers happy to work in parks should be rewarded by a council tax rebate, according to a new report by think tank Policy Exchange.

The Green Society report, published today, puts forward several ideas to address the urban green space funding gap including:

  • A maintenance levy for residents living close to parks
  • A GP pilot referring patients to ecotherapy or exercise classes in parks
  • Living legacies for green space charities
  • Developer endowments to pay for long-term maintenance as part of the planning process

The report comes at a time when parks departments are facing even deeper cuts – an estimated 10.5 per cent between 2010/11 and 2012/13 - and in the wake of the Heritage Lottery Fund research report State of UK Public Parks, published in June.

Report author Katherine Drayson said that Britain’s parks are the lungs of cities and an oasis of calm, yet funding has declined sharply.

"The time has come for radical new thinking to safeguard our parks and make them more accessible to everyone in society," she said.

"With people’s disposable income still under pressure a ‘green guardian’ scheme that rewards local volunteers to help maintain their local parks with council tax rebates is just one way of protecting and enhancing our public green spaces."

Head of landscape and natural heritage at the HLF Drew Bennellick, who was consulted for the report, said: "If we are to avoid the bleak future facing our public parks as exposed in HLF’s State of UK Public Parks 2014 report then new ideas of funding and maintaining them must be explored. This new report is a very welcome contribution to the debate."

For more see the next issue of Horticulture Week.

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