Five-year plan launched for charity that has taken over Newcastle City Council parks and allotments

The charity that has taken over 33 parks and 61 allotment sites in Newcastle has detailed fundraising plans for the future.

Urban Green Newcastle (formerly The Newcastle Parks and Allotments Trust) has a 125 year lease on the sites that began on April 1 2019.

A five-year plan, launched on 21 October, will see £2.5m  spent improving Newcastle’s parks and allotments by the charity.

Urban Green Newcastle announced the spending commitment at its official launch event, which took place in Exhibition Park, Newcastle.

Established by Newcastle City Council with support from National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund, Urban Green Newcastle is part of new movement designed to secure the future of parks, allotments and green spaces.

James Cross, chief executive of Urban Green Newcastle, said: “Since our formation in April this year we have committed to spend half a million pounds in 2019 as part of our capital works programme that will see significant improvements to our parks and allotments.

“Well be installing new fencing and carrying out stonework repairs in Jesmond Dene, improving the footpaths in North Kenton Park, doing works to the embankment at Tyne Riverside and much more.

“Working in partnership with Newcastle City Council, we have begun work on improving playground areas in some of our parks, installing exciting new equipment for local communities to enjoy all year round.

“We’ve also addressed some of the issues that upset parks and allotments users the most by installing new smart bins to tackle the problem of littering and making sure grass is cut regularly so our green spaces remain clean, tidy and welcoming.”

As part of the event, Urban Green Newcastle launched its vision for Newcastle’s parks and allotments and reinforced its commitment to work in partnership with people across the city to co-create its future plans for parks, allotments and green spaces.

Cross added: “We want to connect people to nature and improve the health and wellbeing of all families and communities in Newcastle by providing safe, well maintained parks and allotments that are open for everyone to enjoy.

“We want to enhance our open spaces and celebrate Newcastle as a vibrant, green city.”

Urban Green Newcastle also set out its plan for the next 12 months, which include the announcement of a year long events programme curated with support and input from local Friends of Groups. As well as an expanded Newcastle Garden and Allotments Fete in Leazes Park, there will also be a special programme celebrating the parks’ bandstands and events in Exhibition Park, including the World’s Big Sleep Out.

A new Community Representation Group will be formed to assist Urban Green Newcastle and its Trustees in advising on policies and procedures.

There will also be regular ‘meet the team’ surgeries and drop in sessions so members of the public can collaborate with Urban Green Newcastle and pursue their own ideas about what should happen in Newcastle’s parks and allotments.

The Trust has also launched a campaign to have Newcastle declared a national park city, following Glasgow and London doing the same. Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Nottingham and four other towns and cities have similar plans. 

London was crowned the world’s first National Park City in July 2019 following a six-year campaign that saw its residents and businesses commit to make the capital a city where people, places and nature are better connected.

Cross said: “Becoming a National Park City signals our commitment to make life better for people and nature in Newcastle.

“I want our city’s campaign to be a beacon that inspires communities across Newcastle and the wider region to value, cherish and celebrate our amazing parks, allotments and green spaces.

“And in doing so we feel happier, healthier and more fulfilled; that the places people care about are more vibrant and beautiful; and that people, nature and the local economy thrive.”

Some £2m is needed to be generated from sponsors and events to become self-sufficient. The council has paid £9.5m to help cover the first decade.

Annual budget for Newcastle parks was cut from £2.58m in 2010/11 to £87,000 in 2017/18.

The Trust said: "Over a period of seven years, the Council’s parks budget was reduced by over 90%, meaning that finding new ways of financing and running the city’s parks was essential. We needed to do this whilst staying committed to improving the way we delivered parks and allotments, keeping them in public ownership, safe, free to use, and making sure that local people, community groups and partners were still fully involved in the future delivery of the service."

On 20 November 2017, Cabinet agreed to create a new charitable company (Newcastle Parks Trust) and to transfer the parks and allotments to the new organisation.

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