The Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust have launched a £10 million fund aimed at helping council parks services become self-sufficient.
Up to eight local authorities will win a slice of £5m in HLF money and £5m worth of National Trust expertise to help them develop innovative funding and management solutions for all parks and green spaces under their care.
The Future Parks Accelerator (FPA) will support places to become financially sustainable while looking at how parks and green spaces could be better used, managed and funded to serve community needs and aspirations now and in the future.
The aim is also for the chosen teams to work together, share innovation and disseminate what they learn to other parks teams. They will also connect with the Rethinking Parks projects currently in progress.
HLF chief executive Ros Kerslake said: “Our ambition is simple – we want to grow and secure the future of our public parks so generations in times to come will have access to the wide range of benefits they provide.
“There are big challenges facing parks but equally big opportunities. This strategic initiative will help everyone invested in parks to take action and find new ways to ensure they are safeguarded so they are able to fulfil their potential to deliver health and wellbeing.”
The initiative will run over two years and the deadline for registering an interest is midday on 19 November. A number of places will then be invited to submit a full application later this year with decisions on which places will receive support made in February 2019.
Director general of the National Trust Hilary McGrady said there was no one size fits all approach to the scheme.
“The National Trust was founded in the late 19th century to protect urban green space from development for everyone in the local community to enjoy. Those founding principles remain as relevant today as public parks and green spaces are again under significant pressure, this time from budget cuts. That’s why we are committed to offering our expertise and experience to help councils and communities to find long-term solutions which will not only safeguard their public green spaces, but allow them to thrive.”
The partners said the inspiration for the FPA came out of a conference hosted by NT, Social Finance and Winckworth Sherwood two years ago which launched a toolkit for establishing a parks trust as well as Newcastle City Council’s move to create a parks trust.
The HLF said it has now invested £950m of National Lottery money in 900 park projects over 20 years alongside £3m on the Rethinking Parks projects.