BCP Council has won a place on a new multi-million-pound initiative to create a pioneering approach to the future management of its parks and open spaces.
BCP Council has been chosen by the National Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund as one of eight places across the UK – out of over 80 that applied – to take part in its ground-breaking Future Parks programme to receive a share of more than £6m of funding and £5m worth of advice and support from some of the country’s leading experts in conservation, fundraising, volunteering and green space management.
In the first project of its kind in the UK, Future Parks is designed to help councils find sustainable ways to manage and fund parks and open spaces across entire towns and cities.
BCP Council, working alongside the Bournemouth Parks Foundation (an independent charity devoted to enhancing Bournemouth's parks, gardens and green spaces) submitted its plan to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Trust to help develop a new open space – or green infrastructure – strategy for the area, something that will influence development positively for people and nature. Alongside this, a business plan will be created that will set out how this partnership can enhance its parks, nature reserves, beaches and open spaces for future generations.
The partnership has been selected for its innovative approach to parks and open spaces, with the project looking to widen the charitable partnership to help bring more funds to parks across the area; improve the systems it uses to manage and recognise volunteers who give their time to help its parks; trial different approaches to make its parks health and wellbeing centres of the future; and ensure that its green spaces offer opportunities for all ages and abilities.
The project will also test a landscape scale approach to managing the spaces along the Stour Valley corridor – bringing landowners, user groups and professionals together to enhance the area for nature, visitors and the local economy.
Councillor Felicity Rice, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change commented “Keeping our parks and open spaces running efficiently and attracting more people to actively use these beautiful and inspiring spaces are vital for health and well-being.
“This investment into BCP Council’s parks and open spaces highlights the confidence in our management of these areas and underpins our ethos to ensure these valuable spaces are protected and enhanced for future generations. It’s great to be investing in parks and green infrastructure given the huge issues of climate crisis and wildlife loss.”
Cathi Farrier, Manager, Bournemouth Parks Foundation commented “This two-year project will put our parks and open spaces on the best possible path for the future, enabling us to continue setting a national example around the benefits of a charitable partnership for our parks.
Improving the environment in which we live by combining our knowledge and expertise ensures these areas remain at the forefront of parks nationally, which is something we are looking forward to expanding and sharing best practice on.
Other Council’s which have been successful in securing funding include Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Edinburgh, Islington and Camden, Nottingham and Plymouth.
Alongside the £5m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, in February the Government announced it was handing the Future Parks project £1.2m from an overall £13m dedicated to green spaces.
Hilary McGrady, the National Trust’s Director General, said: “Today is a landmark moment for the nation’s urban parks. This is not just about new ways to fund and support these much-loved community spaces, but completely re-thinking the role green spaces play in our lives and how we can ensure they thrive for generations to come.
“We need to give parks a reboot and start thinking about them as essential elements of our communities in the same way we think about housing or transport. Future Parks is the beginning of something really exciting. What these eight places achieve will help guide how other councils and communities can really make a difference to securing the future of their parks too.
“Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to enjoy green spaces is nothing new to the National Trust; nearly 125 years ago one of our founders, Octavia Hill, created the National Trust so that green spaces could be ‘kept for the enjoyment, refreshment and rest of those who have no country house’.”
Ros Kerslake, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s CEO, said: “Our urban parks and green spaces are essential to the health and well-being of the nation and yet in some areas they are facing a very insecure future. Future Parks isn’t simply patching-up a few problem parks. It is enabling local authorities and communities to take a longer-term, strategic approach to managing, funding and maintaining them, so future generations will be able to enjoy their many benefits in hundreds of years from now.
“Developing strategic approaches and championing innovation are key elements of our new five-year funding strategy. Future Parks allows us to maximise our resources and to work with key partners to accelerate progress and share learning.”
The eight selected places will now join Newcastle, a founding city of Future Parks, which has successfully developed a new parks and allotments trust to look after the city’s green spaces. Over the next two years they will work together to develop tools, approaches, skills and finance to create their new way of managing green space as well as sharing their experience with other councils.