No community backing means no heritage lottery funding

Lack of community involvement in parks bids will scupper any chance of securing millions of pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Charlotte Hazelwood, casework manager for the fund in the North West, told the GreenSpace conference in Manchester: "We want to get people more involved in making decisions about their spaces. It's an area where a lot of bids fall down, so if you don't have those partnerships already, you need to develop them."

Hazelwood said the fund wanted local authorities to take a coordinated approach to addressing green spaces. "You have to show that the park involves local people in its management, usually through a friends group. This has come to the fore with Big Society."

She said only 36 per cent of local authorities had applied for grants and the HLF was trying to encourage more applications by lowering qualifying thresholds (HW, 12 November). Only a fifth of all historic parks - 500 in all - had received funding so far.

She added: "Having spoken to park managers, they have approved of our insistence on good management and maintenance. The fact that we require several years of Green Flags and heavy involvement of friends groups are helping them to resist cuts."

CABE head of sustainable and inclusive design Dr Edward Hobson said campaigns to save rundown and waterlogged sports pitches recently highlighted brilliant "communication and advocacy" from the community.

Friends of Park View in Lytham asked pilots at a nearby airport to photograph a huge "Help" sign spread across the turf, which kicked-off a fundraiser that raised £10,000 almost immediately and £1m within a few weeks.

"They worked with the council on a masterplan, outlining some of the things they could achieve, and succeeded in generating local enthusiasm. It was all about doing something different and being entrepreneurial on how they went about it," said Hobson.

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