Yorkshire & Humberside, Rowntree Park, City of York Council

"Some people say that with all the local authority cuts, why keep going for Green Flags?" says City of York operations manager Dave Meigh. "But now more than ever you need benchmarks to make sure you're keeping up with the pace on skills and maintaining standards.

"Green Flags help park teams focus clearly, set priorities and make sure the locals have a select number of spaces of the highest quality. Rowntree is our flagship park, really popular with all generations."

As the premier park in York, it has to offer something for everyone, he adds. The quiet riverside setting, just south of the city centre, combines play, sports and arts facilities set within a meandering riverside environment with woodland walks, lake, water features and cafe.

Rowntree Park, a short walk from the city centre on the banks of the River Ouse, benefited from a £1.8m refurbishment a few years ago, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This restored much of the 12ha park's original splendour.

It was a gift to the City of York by Messrs Rowntree & Co in 1921 and is a memorial to the Cocoa Works staff killed and injured in World War One. A set of listed gates was added to the park in memory of those who died in World War Two.

"Since 2000, many of the historic features have been refurbished such as the cascade and canal water features," says Meigh. "Other elements such as the bandstand have given way to a new events space, which maximises versatility.

"Improved facilities reflect modern-day use but do not impinge upon the integrity of the central formal area of the park. This is important as it shows how parks have to adapt to remain socially relevant but retain traces of their past. By doing it so successfully they reflect how in touch they still are in today's world. We first got a Green Flag ten years ago but every time we get one it gives bit of a thrill to everyone in the parks team."


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