Parks receive £34.5m funding boost

UK's public green spaces are "close to crisis point"

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More than a dozen parks across the UK are to receive a share of a £34.5 million investment boost for restoration work and new facilities

More than a dozen parks across the UK are to receive a share of a £34.5 million investment boost for restoration work and new facilities.

The announcement of funding for 13 parks around the country comes after warnings the UK's public green spaces were "close to crisis point".

A report from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) revealed 86% of park managers had seen cuts to their budget since 2010, while almost half of local authorities (46%) were considering selling parks and green spaces or handing management over to others.

It also showed that the threats to parks are a serious issue for the country as they are one of the most heavily used public services, with 34 million people estimated to make regular visits to their local green spaces, and are highly valued.

The HLF and the Big Lottery Fund have announced the funding for parks to restore important historic features such as bandstands, to put in new facilities including children's play areas and for measures to make them more self-sustaining.

This includes projects to set up new cafes which can provide revenue in the face of squeezed budgets and skills training for volunteers and friends groups to help them look after the parks.

HLF chief executive Carole Souter said on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund: "Our report revealed how valued public parks are by people and communities and how essential they are to our physical and emotional well-being.

"That's why HLF and the Big Lottery Fund have invested over £700 million in parks since 1996.

"But the report makes clear that our parks face an uncertain future and so it's exciting to see how this new investment is going some way towards helping find new ways of funding and maintaining them so they are still here to be enjoyed long into the future."

The funding will go to projects including Avenue House, Finchley, north London, which will receive £2.1 million to restore a Grade II listed landscape, including its terrace, pond, rockery and wet garden and the Water Tower.

The Grade II listed stable block will be developed into a new cafe bistro, with the profits going into maintaining the refurbished park.

The Water Gardens in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, a Grade II registered landscape, will receive £2.4 million to transform it so it is removed from English Heritage's "At Risk" register and train up local groups and volunteers so they can help with its maintenance and other tasks.

And Moor Park in Preston, classified as a Grade II* site on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, will receive £1.7 million to restore historic features such as its grotto, bowling pavilions and observatory, and put in new facilities including a skate park and snack bar.

Funding will also develop new volunteering opportunities and skills training.

A dozen parks are receiving joint grants from the HLF and Big Lottery Fund in England. They are:

:: Victoria Park, Nottingham, £740,800;
:: Hemel Water Gardens, Hemel Hempstead, £2,467,700;
:: Ampthill Park, Bedfordshire, £606,800;
:: Cassiobury Park, Watford, £4,534,900;
:: Avenue House, Finchley, £2,154,700;
:: Gunnersbury Park, Ealing, £4,671,000;
:: Moor Park, Preston, £1,725,000;
:: Beckenham Place Park, Lewisham, £4,908,400;
:: Beddington Park and Grange, Sutton, £3,203,900;
:: Northwood Cemetery Heritage Project, Isle of Wight, £1,064,000;
:: Kearsney Abbey & Russell Gardens, Dover, £3,389,400;
:: Pearson Park, Hull, £2,343,600.

In addition, the HLF is solely funding a grant to Levengrove Park, Dumbarton, Scotland, of £2,660,800.

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