Lottery groups to pump £100m into parks in new-look Parks for People scheme

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and BIG Lottery Fund (BIG) are to invest £100m in public parks over the next three years.

Image: PR Week
Image: PR Week

"This vital funding marks a renewed commitment to parks by HLF and BIG, who since 1996 have jointly invested over £640million and transformed over 700 historic public spaces," said an HLF spokeswoman.

"The new-look Parks for People programme aims to get local people more involved in the management of their parks and, for the first time, will provide funding to conserve historic cemeteries and offer help and advice about long term park maintenance."

The programme has also been simplified so that local authorities, community trusts and friends groups can access funding in a more streamlined way.  Grants will range from £100,000 to £5million, with HLF committing over £70million and BIG giving £30million up to 2016.

"As a non-statutory service public parks are at real risk from reducing local authority revenue budgets. The UK Public Parks Summit being held today has been organised to help take a broader look at the serious issues facing parks and inspire some fresh ideas to prevent a difficult situation becoming a crisis."

HLF chair Jenny Abramsky said: "Today’s new Lottery funding in our public parks could not be more needed. We know parks are under threat from reducing revenue budgets and, as money becomes tighter, the risk of entering a cycle of boom and bust for our parks is very real.

"Park managers have serious concerns about their ability to maintain standards and many maintenance budgets have already been reduced to a bare minimum. Further cuts result in the closure of toilets and catering services and the loss of security staff.

"We want to make sure the wider values of parks are recognised and that the lessons we have already learnt are shared in order to build greater resilience for the very challenging times ahead."

BIG chair Peter Ainsworth said: "Following decades of decline and neglect much has been achieved in returning many of our public parks to their former glory. Now is the right time to take stock, look back at what has been achieved.

"We are pleased to continue our support for the Parks for People programme, so that even more people can enjoy safer and improved facilities at their local parks, bringing whole communities closer together."

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