Welcome to the living map of parks innovators, a quick guide to some of the most exciting things happening in the world of parks at the moment. Have a read below or find the examples most relevant to you by clicking on the keywords to the right.
You can add more examples here so it continues to be a thriving map of what works.
Lydia and the Rethinking Parks team at Nesta’s Innovation Lab.
Arnos Vale Cemetery generates income from activities and events held in the grounds and restored buildings of the 45 acre site. The Friends of Group took over management and operation of the cemetery in 2007, together with the Charitable Trust. Whilst funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund and Bristol Council enabled historic buildings on the site to be restored, the ongoing sustainability relies on income generated from events, classes, donations and fundraising activities.
Freiburg has been recognised as a Green City for its management of parks in line with strict environmental principles. As a result, pesticides are avoided and only indigenous shrubs and trees are planted. Many of the playgrounds have been returned to a more natural state with the cooperation of children and their parents, and the parks include nearly 4,000 allotments for the use of local families. The shared agreement of how to get the most out of the green space in Freiburg has meant less professional maintenance is needed, reducing costs while improving biodiversity across the parks system.
The London Borough of Lambeth is the UK’s first cooperative council, aiming to adopt a new relationship with citizens for managing its local services. As such, they are exploring three different levels of involvement in managing local parks and open spaces. Some parks are intended to remain under local authority management, while others may be managed by community-led groups. A third option involves cooperative management where decisions would be made jointly between local authorities, residents and community organisations. It is hoped these new ways of working will reduce running costs, and increase community ownership of local assets.
Heeley Millennium Park is a community leased and managed park operated separately from the local authority. A combination of volunteering, paid events and fundraising contribute to the sustainable ongoing maintenance and operation of the park. Since fundraising began in 1997, over £1 million has been secured to transform the green space from an unloved wasteland into a diverse and well used public park. The funding has been used to create several areas for activities including bouldering and climbing, cycling, a multi-use games area, an orchard, walking trails, playgrounds, a woodland park and wildflower bank.
Once a park in decline, Bryant Park in Manhattan, New York, is owned and managed by the Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a not-for-profit, private management company, together with neighbouring property owners.
BPC realised that a vibrant local park would be an asset to local business, so they struck a deal, securing ongoing investment from adjacent businesses to fund the maintenance of the park. This funding model for public parks is common in the USA, but less used in the UK. However, there is potential to work up similar deals in Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) where the commercial enterprises have available resource and interest in ensuring public spaces are attractive and well maintained.
The national fishing charity, Hooked on Fishing, works in partnership with Ealing Council to maintain Northala Fields Park in London. In exchange for free rent on the fishing lake, the charity delivers youth activities and manages the visitor centre on a day to day basis for the council. The arrangement is an innovative way of reducing running costs for both organisations.
The park also represents an innovative approach to creating new parks in an environmentally and economically sustainable way – it was created by turning waste from nearby landfill from the original Wembley stadium and the new White City shopping centre into a new open space for play and recreation.