Parks and Green Spaces Knowledge Hub

Articles, Guidance, Bibliography, Sources of Information

Over many years, the evidence base for parks and green spaces has been overwhelming, with guidance dating back to the days of ILAM, the Urban Parks Forum, GreenSpace, and especially CABE Space. Much of this work today is still relevant. The intention here is to make available this guidance as well as current work that is being undertaken. Many links are provided in daily updates from across the sector, but this page makes available such work and in essence is the beginning of a Knowledge Hub for Parks and Green Spaces.

Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health

Community green uniquely investigates the inter-relationship between urban green space, inequality, ethnicity, health and wellbeing. It is the largest study of its kind in England.

Some of the most acute effects of deprivation are felt by black and minority ethnic communities living on a low income in urban areas. The poor quality of their local environment has a considerable impact on their health and wellbeing.

People living in deprived urban areas recognise and appreciate the value of local green spaces, but they underuse the spaces that are most convenient because these spaces are often poor quality and feel unsafe. The study found, for instance, that less than 1 per cent of people living in social housing reported using the green space on their estate.

Decent parks? Decent behaviour? The link between the quality of parks and user behaviour

Decent parks? Decent behaviour? The link between the quality of parks and user behaviour

This publication provides practical suggestions for improving public spaces in ways that can help reduce vandalism and other anti-social behaviour. It is informed by research commissioned by CABE Space in 2004. The research, carried out by GreenSpace, involved over twenty local authorities and seventy-five community representatives concerned with green spaces.

Does Money Grow on Trees

Does money grow on trees?

The generation of economic benefit is not the primary reason for the provision of urban green space. Parks, gardens and squares are places of relaxation, recreation, refreshment and relief; but these are qualities that are in short supply in our towns and cities, and things that are in short supply are valued. Whether this civic and social value is translated into economic return is the subject of this report.

The report is not based on theory, but on case studies of real places.
It reaches conclusions that offer real encouragement to those charged with creating new communities or revitalising established ones, by showing how expenditure on green space really does represent an investment that produces a long-term dividend. This dividend
comes in the form of direct expenditure in the green space itself, in the increased expenditure enjoyed by local businesses as a consequence of the attraction of greater numbers of people, and in the raised property prices that accompany a valued amenity.

Communities in Action – Understanding the landscape for community action in the UK

Up and down the UK, people are getting together and making things happen in their communities. From community gardens to youth clubs, Friends of Parks groups to local sports clubs, people give up their time to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhood. While the government’s Civil Society Strategy says that it wants people to be empowered to take responsibility for their neighbourhoods (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, 2018b), it pays little attention to the voices and needs of community groups who are doing just that. This research set out to address three questions:

  • What motivates people to get involved in action in their communities?
  • What benefits are realised as a result of community action?
  • What support and resources are needed to enable communities to take action in their local area?

Understanding the Contribution Parks and Green Spaces can make to Improving People’s Lives.

This document is intended to serve three primary purposes:

  • To provide a platform of evidence for all types of green space services at the local level, raising awareness of the inherently unique contribution that they make to the social, environmental and economic fabric of our towns and cities
  • Provide the organisations that manage parks and green spaces teams with a framework for applying this evidence to enable them to position and make the case for the contribution that the service can make to local outcomes in order for them to collaborate more effectively during this period of unprecedented financial difficulty.
  • Generating greater understanding of the unique contribution that community management of green spaces can make in developing a sense of ownership and community engagement.

Park Life – Urban Parks and Social Renewal

The landmark report by Comedia and Demos that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published.

Community Ownership and Management of Parks and Green Spaces

Parks and green spaces are often some of the most valued places in local areas, and can be many people’s main or only experience of the natural world. They tend to be owned and run by local authorities, many of whom are under pressure to make savings in parks budgets. But increasingly, local authorities are working with community organisations to see if new models of managing these spaces can be developed, creating both efficiencies and added value services and activities as a result.

Much of this work is exploring new frontiers as there are no well-trodden paths for local authorities and communities to walk down when considering new park management models. This guide explores the opportunities and challenges inherent in developing community-led models of parks and green space management. It proposes some general principles that both local authorities and communities should consider further when developing proposals. It also provides examples of current practice and links to further reading on the subject at the Appendices.

This guide has been produced as part of the Community Ownership and Management of Assets (COMA) programme by Shared Assets – ‘a think and do tank that makes land work for everyone’. Shared Assets was a delivery partner in the COMA programme and this guide draws upon their experience of supporting many of the green space focussed projects that took part

Green Space Community Empowerment

The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces is the democratic volunteer-led organisation which represents and amplifies the voices of the movement of the thousands of local Friends Groups and greenspace community groups around the UK. Our key ambition is to raise the voices of grassroots groups at every level. We have been the only community-level organisation in the Government’s Parks Action Group independent advisory and liaison body. In particular we have led the PAG’s Community Empowerment Working Group, and undertook this survey alongside a series of PAG-supported ‘Parks and People, Stronger Together’ community empowerment conferences we helped organise in every region in England in 2019. [See Report –]. The survey’s main aim was to ensure groups who were unable to attend could also make their opinions and experiences heard on strategic matters.

Urban Parks – Do you know what you are getting for your money?

Urban parks: do you know what you’re getting for your money?

For decades, parks were deprived
of investment. Their quality declined. Now, more resources are being ploughed back into parks and urban green spaces. And quality seems
to be improving.

But is it really that simple? Does
more money guarantee better parks? Would a 10 per cent increase in funding lead to a 10 per cent increase in quality? Do some councils deliver better parks for their money than others?

We set to find out. We commissioned a research project among eight local authorities. The results, detailed over the following pages, were interesting but inconclusive.

Hardly anyone could answer our questions. And the patchy results we gathered didn’t link the amount spent on parks with the quality of parks.

We knew that many local authorities give their green space a low priority.
We hadn’t realised that, because of this, some don’t even keep useful records
of their expenditure and its outcome. With no helpful data, they’re unable to make the case for more resources or allocate the resources they have in a proper, strategic way.

Although we only surveyed eight local authorities, the findings matched our experience of working closely with dozens of others. We’re not naming the eight local authorities concerned. Our aim was to gather facts, not to name and shame.

By publishing the research findings, we hope to provoke a debate about the way parks are funded and what the funds actually achieve. Does
more income mean a better outcome? Please read the report and join the debate.

The Value of Public Parks and Their Communities

Public parks and green spaces are valuable assets in everyday life. They provide access to nature and independent walking. They are places to participate in family and friendship, for sports and hanging out, for the enjoyment of outdoor exercise, for private contemplation, and for people and nature watching.

These uses and the values attached to them were signalled very early on in the Understanding Everyday Participation research.
In our first case study ecosystem area, the conjoined wards of Cheetham, North Manchester and Broughton, East Salford, public parks have played these roles in people’s everyday lives since their establishment over 170 years ago. The research investigates participation in parks using a number of different methods.

Ethnographic fieldwork took place across the large number of green spaces and parks in the area, which complemented further ethnography during the follow-on project with Cheetham Park and Manchester Jewish Museum. This involved walking through and hanging out in green spaces within the area, and observation of individuals and social groups as they used public parks.

We undertook archival research to explore the histories of public parks in Manchester and Salford, their contribution to public policy and cultural management from their establishment in the 1840s. Park-keepers and Parks Committees once had the authority and resources to make the public park an integral part of 19th and 20th century civic cultural policy, by providing access to sports and recreation within green landscapes, and offering free or subsidised public lectures, concerts, dances and art exhibitions.

Spaces to Thrive – a rapid evidence review of the benefits of parks and green spaces for people and communities

Space to thrive_2019, A rapid evidence review of the benefits of parks and green spaces for people and communities

This report summarises a rapid review of evidence on the social benefits of urban parks and green spaces. It has been conducted by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University and The University of Sheffield. It focuses on issues such as health, wellbeing and social integration rather than on the wider environmental and ecological benefits of green spaces.

It is based on a review of 495 empirical studies published within the last ten years that have been through a process of academic peer review, supplemented by an additional 31 papers reviewed in order to cover evidence gaps. After sifting for quality and relevance, 385 papers were considered. While that means the research reported here is more likely to be robust and rigorous, providing a solid evidence base for policy and practice, it also means that valuable work that has not undergone a peer review process has not been included.

The evidence is presented within a context of increasing policy interest in the social benefits
of parks and green spaces. Following work by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and civil society organisations, there is growing political recognition
of the social importance of public parks. This has been recognised in, for example, the Loneliness Strategy announced by the Government in October 2018, and in work by NHS England on creating healthy new towns.

Recreating Parks: Securing the future of our urban green spaces

Parks have been a vital public service throughout the UK’s lockdown. But their financial plight and health benefits have not been fully recognised. With parks taking on a new place in the national conversation, now is the time to secure their future.

Urban Parks as Community Places

An important way cities can use parks and open spaces is for community engagement. This is the process of working collaboratively with individuals and groups to improve their local environment. For parks and open spaces, community engagement allows public officials to directly involve their constituencies in the ongoing design, planning, and management of these resources. This process results in informed and engaged residents that feel better connected to their communities.

State of Parks 2016

State of UK Public Parks 2016

Public parks are a central part of the physical and social fabric of neighbourhoods and communities right across the UK. Often overlooked, many have a long and rich social history that has helped to shape the collective cultural heritage of places and enriched countless personal lives, relationships and experiences. From the farsighted municipal park movement of Victorian times, that breathed life into increasingly industrialised and polluted towns and cities, to garden suburbs and post-war new towns, Britain can quite justifiably consider itself a nation of park-makers. This has built a considerable legacy of green and open spaces that continue to make attractive and popular places to live, work, raise families and retire.

Whilst these parks remain incredibly valuable assets for towns and cities, many local authorities now face a growing problem of how best to properly manage and maintain them through this time of austerity. The question now is whether Britain can also be a nation of great park- keepers? Having invested more than £850 million including £130 million from Big Lottery Fund (BLF) England, in restoring and regenerating public parks over the last 20 years, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is acutely aware of this challenge. To protect this investment and to understand these challenges in greater depth HLF has commissioned this study into the State of UK Public Parks. It follows two years after the first study was reported and fulfils a commitment to update and revisit the findings to understand better how parks are changing, what has improved, what is getting worse and how best to care for the nations great wealth of public parks in the future.

The Significance of Parks to Physical Activity and Public Health – A Conceptual Model


Park-based physical activity is a promising means to satisfy current physical activity requirements. However, there is little research concerning what park environmental and policy characteristics might enhance physical activity levels. This study proposes a conceptual model to guide thinking and suggest hypotheses. This framework describes the relationships between park benefits, park use, and physical activity, and the antecedents/correlates of park use. In this classification scheme, the discussion focuses on park environmental characteristics that could be related to physical activity, including park features, condition, access, aesthetics, safety, and policies. Data for these categories should be collected within specific geographic areas in or around the park, including activity areas, supporting areas, the overall park, and the surrounding neighborhood. Future research should focus on how to operationalize specific measures and methodologies for collecting data, as well as measuring associations between individual physical activity levels and specific park characteristics. Collabora- tion among many disciplines is needed.

Helping community groups to improve public spaces

Helping community groups to improve public spaces

This paper is based on research commissioned by CABE Space and conducted by the Glass-House Community Led Design in 2008. The aim was to find out more about community groups that were involved in improving public spaces, what resources and support they had, what more they needed, and what obstacles prevent projects from progressing. The research was based on three regional focus groups, attended by representatives of 14 community groups, and participants of a Glass-House training course, Spaces by Design.
A questionnaire was completed by 68 people actively involved in community-led open space regeneration projects.

Public Space lessons – Improving green space skills

When times are tough, the need for a skilled and adaptable workforce is greatest. This is particularly true of the green space sector, which often fails to compete with other publicly funded services — and which could be about to play a specific role in creating new jobs. If we are to create and maintain high-quality green spaces, investment in green space skills and training must become a priority.

Urban Green Nation: Building the evidence base

This report presents the findings of the first of two pieces of research commissioned by CABE Space to gauge the state of England’s urban green space and its impact on people’s health and well-being.1 It starts to fill the serious information gap highlighted by the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce and its recommendation that this problem should be resolved.

Uncertain Prospects – Public parks in the new age of austerity

This report has been written in response to increasing alarm about the effect of budget cuts on councils’ capacity to maintain their public parks. That alarm has been most recently embodied in a House of Commons Select Committee inquiry into the future of public parks, held in the autumn of 2016.

The Gardens Trust was formed in 2015 from the merger of the Garden History Society and the Association of Gardens Trusts. It has inherited the GHS role as a national amenity society and a statutory consultee on planning applications affecting parks and gardens on the national Register. It is also the umbrella group for the network of 36 county gardens trusts in England and is affiliated to the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust. In 2016 the Gardens Trust published The Planning System in England and the Protection of Historic Parks and Gardens: Guidance for Local Planning Authorities.

The report was written by Dr Katy Layton-Jones, an independent historical consultant. In 2005 she was engaged as a Research Associate on the Liverpool Parks and Open Spaces project, a collaboration between Liverpool City Council, the University of Liverpool, and English Heritage. She has since been commissioned to research parks and parks policy for a number of organisations including Historic England and local authorities. She has researched and published widely on the subject of public parks. Dr. Layton-Jones lectures for the Open University and holds a research post at the University of Leicester.

Skills to grow – Seven priorities to improve green space skills

‘This strategy sets out what we know about the skills and data shortages across the sector; it identifies actions to address them in the short term and proposals for further action that can be taken in the longer term.

Parks need Parkforce

Parks need Parkforce

Imagine a museum without attendants, or a municipal swimming pool without a lifeguard. They don’t feel right; something’s missing. Parks are no exception. Without visible figures of authority, our parks, gardens and squares can feel uncared for and intimidating. A recent research report showed that 39 per cent of women feel unsafe in London’s green spaces. 89 per cent of them said that more staff would make them feel safer.

CABE Space believes that putting staff on site is essential to ensure the success of a decade of parks regeneration and turn around problem parks – where they can encourage more people to enjoy using their parks and tackle problems. That’s why we’ve launched Parkforce, a campaign to celebrate the role that park staff – from rangers to neighbourhood wardens, café staff to volunteers – play in the success of local communities. We want to bring public perceptions about park staff right up to date, and to challenge and support public authorities to reinvent the way they manage parks.

CABE Space wants to see on site staff dedicated to caring for every significant urban park in England during daylight hours.

Open space strategies – best practice guidance

Great parks, squares and streets make for a better quality of life. A network of well-designed and cared-for open spaces adds to the character of places where people want to live, work and visit. Open spaces also provide the vital green infrastructure that enables us to deal with floods or mitigate and adapt to climate change while providing wildlife habitats, sporting facilities or beautiful parks.

Open space is now firmly part of statutory and community planning processes. Comprehensive planning policies for open space are fundamental to social inclusion, community cohesion, health and well-being. A shared, strategic approach

to open space maximises its potential to contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable future at local, regional and national level.

This document offers clear, practical guidance to local authorities and their stakeholders on how to prepare an open space strategy. For local authorities that have already completed an open space strategy, it also gives guidance on delivering, monitoring and reviewing a strategy. There are also examples of strategies in action from around England, reflecting different themes.

Managing Green spaces seven ingredients for success

Parks and open spaces fundamentally affect our wellbeing. They are an important determinant of health and quality of life. They influence how happy we are with where we live. They are vital pieces

of local infrastructure. The quality of parks and open space services has a proven effect on public perceptions of local authority performance.

Green space also significantly affects the economic performance of a place. However, an NLGN survey of local authority finance directors in 2009 found that when resources become scarce, environmental and culture services are the most exposed and vulnerable to forced cuts.2

This study looked at how parks and green space service structures can change to provide leaner, locally focused services which are fit for purpose. They certainly can adapt. But just cutting the management and maintenance of green spaces is nearly always found to be a false economy, because it generates costs in other areas. For instance, it increases the need to police anti-social behaviour in a derelict space.

What planners and local government policymakers need to know

The purpose of this briefing is to inform people working in spatial planning, or whose work connects with planners, of the evidence from our research and what it means for practice. While our research was based in Sheffield, we have drawn out lessons that apply more broadly to urban areas in the UK.

Making Parks Count – The Case for Parks

A recent study by the Parks Alliance on Making Parks Count – up to date and with abundant evidence as to why Government need to fund parks.

Improving access to greenspace – A new review for 2020

Improving access to greenspace: 2020 review

From the moment we are born, through to old age, the environments we live in shape our lives and our wellbeing. Having a safe home, a sufficient income and support networks around us make a substantial contribution to a life in good health. And the importance of our surroundings also extends to our natural environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many of us all the more aware of how much we value and rely on our outdoor spaces to support our health and wellbeing.

There is increasingly compelling evidence showing that access to greenspaces really matters for our health.

Anyone who loves being outdoors might instinctively feel a boost from spending some time in our parks or woodlands, but it is now formally recognised that green environments are associated with reduced levels of depression, anxiety and fatigue and can enhance quality of life for both children and adults.

We gain physically too. People with better access to greenspace enjoy a wide range of health benefits from lower levels of cardiovascular disease through to maintaining a healthier weight.

It should be a concern for all of us, however, that evidence also shows access to good quality greenspaces such as parks, woodlands, fields or allotments varies greatly depending on where we live. The most economically deprived areas often have less available public greenspace, meaning people in those communities have fewer opportunities to reap the benefits.

But there is much we can and must do, and Improving Access to Greenspace – A new review for 2020 builds on our 2014 briefing on this topic, highlighting new evidence and actions to help local areas consider how good-quality greenspace can support the delivery of health, social, environmental and economic priorities, at a relatively low cost.

We hope this report will help you identify levers that are relevant to you locally and that can be used to build and support a case for creating and maintaining quality greenspaces, ultimately improving the wellbeing of local communities and helping to reduce health inequalities.

Green Space Strategies – a good practice guide

A green space strategy sets out an authority’s vision for using its green space and the goals it wants to achieve, plus the resources, methods and time needed to meet these goals.

A green space strategy forms part of a suite of key council documents. It is a comprehensive, council-wide document, which should directly contribute to delivering the council’s corporate aims and objectives set out in the community strategy. Other more detailed strategies, such as tree strategies and sports strategies, will feed into the green space strategy. Strategies should be succinct and easily digested but detailed enough to enable decision making, assessment of plans, resource allocation and the setting of priorities.

ManagingPublic Parks during Covid-19

This guide is intended to help local authorities and other organisations who manage urban and coun- try parks and the wider green space to think through how sites can be managed as the govern- ment steadily releases the lockdown state.

It has been produced collaboratively with key input from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Local Government Association, National Trust, APSE, the Midlands Parks Forum and parks practitioners and developed by Community First Partnership.

Throughout lockdown, the Government has emphasised the need for public parks and greenspaces to remain accessible to the public in order to assist people to take exercise and get fresh air, close to home.

Natural Capital Accounts for Public Green Space in London

Londoners live in one of the greenest cities of its size in the world. They have access to an extensive network of public parks and green spaces, though this access varies locally. A greater understanding of the services and benefits that Londoners now enjoy from their public parks and green spaces will help to inform their future management.

Most of these are owned or managed by the London boroughs, other public agencies (such as The Royal Parks and Lea Valley Regional Park Authority) or environmental organisations, many of which are supported by grants or contracts from local authorities. However, with constraints on public funding, many are struggling to invest in, and maintain, public green spaces. Thus, it has become a priority to make the best use of precious resources, a public discussion which this study’s findings inform.

Into this debate, the report highlights the enormous economic value and benefits provided by public parks and green spaces. It provides a compelling narrative and evidence base for maintaining, or even increasing, investment in London’s public green spaces and motivates policy-makers and decision-makers to explore new sustainable models for funding or financing the provision and maintenance of public parks.

Vivid Economics was commissioned by the Greater London Authority, National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund to estimate the economic value provided by London’s public parks.

The Social Value of Public Spaces

Public spaces play a vital role in the social and economic life of communities. New kinds of public spaces and meeting places are now being created in towns and cities, which can be an important social resource.

In this summary of research projects undertaken in England and Wales, Ken Worpole and Katharine Knox explore how people use both traditional and new public spaces, and how these places function, often successfully, sometimes not. The summary provides clear evidence of the importance of public space in successful regeneration policies, and for creating sustainable communities.

The Future Prospects of Urban Parks

Public parks are long-standing and familiar features of the urban environment. For many people, visiting parks is an integral part of everyday life in the contemporary city. Yet parks in the UK are at a possible ‘tipping point’, prompting important concerns about their sustainability. Parks face essential challenges over funding and management, as well as questions of unequal access and competing demands on use.

This study of public parks in the city of Leeds focused on how they have changed through time, how they are used today, and what their future prospects might be.

Parks and People – Stronger Together

A series of nine ‘Parks and People, Stronger Together’ community conferences and mini-conferences for each region in England was held from April to November 2019.

The aim was to promote and strengthen community peer-learning, empowerment, coordination, networking and partnerships with landowners and management.

Seven of the nine events were organised by the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, Locality and Groundwork on behalf of the Parks Action Group. That programme was funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, guided by specific recommendations from the CLG Select Committee backed by the Minister for Parks.The other two events were under the same ‘banner’ but independently organised and funded by existing regional networks of Friends Groups.

Delegates from over 200 organisations from over 90 towns, villages and boroughs took part, around three quarters being from greenspace Friends and community groups, the others from Local Authorities and supportive third sector organisations. The events focused on enabling active and intense sharing of experiences and views, all of which were carefully captured and distilled.

The events themselves were enhanced by the MHCLG having also funded the improvement of the MyCommunity website resource and also an NFPGS networking post. Both were able to contribute to the events. Locality, for MyCommunity, were able to gather information about the needs of the groups present. The NFPGS did the publicity and gathered all the contact data in order to grow the movement and strengthen coordination throughout the Friends groups’ networks, and also conducted its own online survey for Friends Groups. 380 groups took part in the survey with feedback on their strategic needs for improving their coordination and getting support from the PAG regarding wider policy issues.

Due to the importance of recognising and promoting community empowerment in the country’s green spaces, the NFPGS and Groundwork are currently producing a special ‘advocacy’ document for widespread circulation throughout the sector. It will be based on the learning that came out of the Community Empowerment projects during 2019.

Parks, People and Nature

A guide to enhancing natural habitats in London’s parks and green spaces in a changing climate

Walking in Urban Parks and Green Spaces


There is now overwhelming evidence that regular physical activity, such as walking, is one of the best things anyone can do to keep healthy.1 There is also increasing evidence that spending time in green spaces such as parks and gardens is good for our mental health, as well as our physical health.2 Taken together, it is clear that we should be encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to walk to, and through, their local urban parks and green spaces, and we should be making it easier for them to do so.

This report looks at people’s attitudes to doing just that. Its findings are based on market research carried out in early 2018 among 1,000 people,

forming a representative sample of ages and socio- economic groups across Britain. It demonstrates that people instinctively understand that spending time in parks and green spaces is good for them, with 98% of respondents saying that walking through green spaces helps to improve their mental health, and a similar percentage saying that walking through parks improves their physical health. It also suggests that different groups of people are put off walking through parks for different reasons, and that if we want to encourage everyone to use parks we need to focus investment carefully. How this can be done in practice is further explored in the case studies set out in this report.

Parks, People and Planning – Open Spaces in Small Places

As a small, rural city of only 1000 residents, Coburg faces many challenges in updating their Parks and Open Space Master Plan. There are issues of size, density, quality, capacity, and use that are not accounted for in traditional park planning guidelines, which often favor large, urban settings. Current guidelines for parks planning are standardized and methodical, but often fail to provide clear guidance about the more qualitative measures such as public input.

When starting the process of preparing the Parks and Open Space Master Plan Update for the City of Coburg, it seemed that addressing the issue of outdated and misrepresented level-of- service guidelines would be the biggest barrier to a successful plan. However, challenges with organization, community stakeholders, funding mechanisms, and the political issue of expanding the Urban Growth Boundary made the process much more interesting than the content of the plan itself and provided valuable lessons for myself as a student.

This project first began in the summer of 2015, when the City of Coburg approached me with the opportunity to update their parks master plan. While the project has taken longer than initially expected, this left time to learn, grow, and analyze the results of my continued efforts. Since the plan is only half complete at this time, it made more sense to look closely at the tasks that have been accomplished and distill the process into a set of lessons learned.

There is much to be gleaned from the community, the process, and the implementation that may be useful to other planners in pursuit of creating the perfect small town parks plan. Small town open space planners are often limited in staff and funding capacity, face opposition from long- time residents, and juggle multiple responsibilities at once. With the inventory and community outreach portions of the plan complete, there is now time to reflect on the successes and challenges of this process and look for opportunities moving forward.

Eight key lessons were assembled from the process that can be applied to future parks planning in Coburg, or adapted to other planning processes moving forward.

Parks and reserves – places managed for people and nature

There is a wide spectrum of parks, reserves and other places specifically managed
for people and nature in Scotland. This includes both designated and non-designated parks and reserves owned and managed by local authorities or national agencies, as well as some of the properties and estates of NGOs and private businesses. These places are popular destinations for enjoying the outdoors and experiencing Scotland’s nature and landscapes. They therefore contribute to the Scottish Government’s priorities on health, wellbeing and tourism. In many parts of Scotland, they are an important asset for sustainable economic growth.

This statement sets out a vision for the future role and management of these places, the action required to achieve it and the role of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) in supporting this work.

Parks, People and Places: Making Parks Accessible to the Community

Parks, People, and Places: Making Parks Accessible to the Community

At their best, urban parks play many roles for people of all ages and back- grounds: an aesthetic experience for some, a recreational one for others; a place for casual relaxation or for organized team sports; a site for arts, music, or other community events; a place to people watch or a place to enjoy solitude.

Parks are hubs that bring people together—not only by attracting residents and visi- tors, but also by drawing community members to participate in park programs or to volunteer their time, perhaps as members of advisory boards or as park ambassa- dors. Businesses recognize the value of parks, too, whether they benefit from a loca- tion on the economic perimeter of a park or demonstrate corporate stewardship by sponsoring park activities or facilities.

Thus, it is important to view parks not in isolation, but as integral parts of the com- munity fabric. Parks are places for fun, recreation, and being close to nature, but they often play a pivotal role in community vitality and renewal. A derelict park with broken playground equipment and graffiti-covered benches reflects one image of a neighborhood and its city; an attractive, actively used park reflects a very different image. When a park is well maintained and hosts a range of programs that attract residents and visitors, the park is not only an asset in itself, but may also offer com- pounded benefits: drawing more customers for local businesses, helping to increase property values in nearby neighbourhoods, and fostering greater civic involvement.

Participants in the 2005 ULI/Charles H. Shaw Forum on Urban Community Issues examined many strategies for successful parks, considered how to make parks accessible to the community, and identified a number of essential principles for parks, people, and places. Planning, active community participation, good design, and diverse programming are all key ingredients in a successful park system. Equally important are public, private, and nonprofit partnerships to support park programming and facilities; good management and maintenance; and dependable funding strategies.

All Things to All People – Parks and Semi-Natural Open Spaces in the 21st Century

Microsoft Word – Parks_Gordon.doc

Parks and other open spaces in our towns and cities are seen by some as anachronistic leftovers and by others as potentially underpinning an urban renaissance. Those responsible for their care and maintenance are assailed by pressures from many different quarters: rural preservationists would cram development on to any urban open space to protect the countryside’s greenfield sites; the heritage-minded want municipal parks to be time-warped in a golden age of formalism, regardless of today’s needs and opportunities; regeneration agencies surround parks and open spaces with new roads and other barriers, denying access to local people, and those who would sanitise the environment demand that “dangerous” trees are disfigured and pools are drained and filled.

Faced with this welter of conflicting messages and competition for resources from other departments, is it any wonder that local councils, who bear the brunt of managing these places, are either unwilling or unable to commit adequate resources to do so, and that the anti- social amongst us vandalise, deface and abuse these often fading relicts of a gentler age? In addition many of the new breed of countryside rangers try to distance themselves from what they see as out of date “parks departments” and by so doing contribute to fragmentation of thinking and action in relation to the matrix of open spaces in today’s towns.

In the midst of this seemingly hopeless desolation and dereliction new thoughts and ideas are emerging which, if they can be harnessed, may help to revive not only parks but public open spaces in general, those places named by Oliver Gilbert as our “urban commons”.

History of Public Park Funding and Management (1820-2010)

This report examines and contextualises the history of public park funding and park management between c.1820 and the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010. It uses case studies, interviews with, and statements from park professionals past and present, and historical evidence from a variety of sources, to demonstrate how various funding and management models have shaped the significance of these historic designed landscapes and their environments. In so doing, it represents a real opportunity to inform and shape the current debate on funding models and future heritage protection.

Public Space lessons – improving park performance

Just how good are parks services? Answering that question is not as straightforward as it should be. But now CABE Space has found a new way to help local authority parks services to get a clearer idea of their performance and how it can be improved.

Is the grass greener…? Learning from international innovations in urban green space management

Is the grass greener? Learning from international innovations in urban green space management

he work of the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce highlighted the issue that public parks and urban green spaces in England’s towns and cities have suffered a widespread decline and neglect in recent years. The result has been a poor public perception of urban parks and green spaces, and a gradual loss of civic pride. Recognising these concerns, the Government announced at the Urban Summit in 2002 a range of initiatives to address this decline, including a programme of research led by CABE Space to establish how urban green space can be given a higher priority, both now and in the future.

This project is one of the first outputs from the CABE Space research programme. Using 11 case study towns and cities from countries across the world, including Japan, Australia, USA and Europe, the research builds up a convincing comparative study examining urban green space practice overseas, focusing in particular on aspects of management and maintenance practice. Most significantly, it assesses the transferability of the lessons learnt to current English practice, providing a series of challenging and inspiring solutions to what are surprisingly common issues.

The Value of Public Space

The value of public space: how high quality parks and public spaces create economic, social and environmental value

A high-quality public environment can have a significant impact on the economic life of urban centres big or small, and is therefore an essential part of any successful regeneration strategy. As towns increasingly compete with one another to attract investment, the presence of good parks, squares, gardens and other public spaces becomes a vital business and marketing tool: companies are attracted to locations that offer well-designed, well-managed public places and these in turn attract customers, employees and services. In town centres, a pleasant and well-maintained environment increases the number of people visiting retail areas, otherwise known as ‘footfall’.

A good public landscape also offers very clear benefits to the local economy in terms of stimulating increased house prices, since house-buyers are willing to pay to be near green space.

Paying for Parks – Eight models for funding urban green spaces

Paying for parks: eight models for funding urban green spaces

The last three decades of the 20th century saw a sustained decline in the quality of urban green spaces in England. This is now beginning to turn around. Today the quality of green space is improving rather than declining. Greater public priority for investment has enabled local authorities, public bodies and over 4,000 community groups to bring about the refurbishment and renewal of many urban green spaces.

A Guide to Producing Park and Green Space Management Plans

A guide to producing green space and park management plans

This guide has been produced to enable anyone involved in the management of publicly accessible parks and green space to write management plans that help them to manage, maintain, develop and improve their green space in the most appropriate way.

The guide is the result of discussions between CABE Space and a range of stakeholders. In particular feedback both from applicants and potential applicants to the Green Flag Award scheme and from its judges suggested that many applicants were experiencing difficulty in putting good plans together. CABE Space recognises the potential benefits that effective management plans can bring, and is keen to promote their wider adoption. Government also recognises the contribution of quality green spaces to building sustainable communities, and in delivering the Liveability agenda.

The organisations involved in the production of this guide have tried to make recommendations that fit a wide range of circumstances and applications, ensuring that the people responsible for managing parks and green space do not have to produce several different versions of their management plan depending on its intended use. Managers should, however, be aware that these various programmes would still expect their specific requirements to be incorporated in a management plan submitted to them. For example the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) ten-year management plan will require more emphasis on staff structure and resources (see annex A), and plans supporting Green Flag Award entries should make accurate reference to

the area’s wider strategic aims (and thus reduce the need to send further documentation with the Award entry).

National Review of Research Priorities for Urban Parks, Designed Landscapes, and Open Spaces

This report represents over nine months of discrete research in addition to the author’s existing expertise and experience in the sector. It provides a précis of recent research in the field of urban parks, designed landscapes and open spaces. Rather than attempting to evaluate the myriad management strategies employed in parks over the past two centuries, it focuses on research into the history and historical context of these sites.
This approach was adopted advisedly. Communities and park managers have endured decades of uncertainty regarding their local parks and many have lost battles to protect historic green spaces from development, vandalism and decline; suspicion and scepticism are common sentiments among communities, local authorities, and even professional bodies. While the historical significance of these landscapes is being challenged, the need for English Heritage to research the history and reassert the historical and contemporary significance of urban parks and designed landscapes is pressing. By returning to the history of urban parks and open spaces can English Heritage work with others to influence and shape their protection. To this end, the report is organised in four main parts.

Making the invisible visible: the real value of park assets

Making the invisible visible: the real value of park assets

This report suggests an alternative way of valuing parks. It suggests a framework that will help local authorities understand the implications of meeting the requirements of the ‘whole of government accounts’ system that is being introduced during the next few years.

It provides a starting point in quantifying the considerable financial value of the physical assets contained within our parks. It suggests ways that green space managers can use this information to improve the delivery and management of these spaces and implement the sort of good housekeeping that is routine elsewhere within local authorities.

The study identifies a possible indicator of the wider value provided by green space. Its purpose is not to place a financial value on all the economic and environmental benefits that parks and green spaces provide to society.

PowerPoint Presentation

Levelling Up and Building Back Better through Urban Green Infrastructure: An investment options appraisal

The current COVID-19 health crisis has highlighted some key challenges and inequalities of urban living. In particular, the provision of and access to urban green infrastructure for urban dwellers.

As our cities and towns thrive, in recent years it has become clear that urban greenspace and nature has a proven impact on our physical health and wellbeing, both by offering us the space to exercise and relax and contributing to tackling climate change.

Commissioned by the National Trust and partners of the Future Parks Accelerator, this review by Vivid Economics and Barton Willmore, utilises Greenkeeper, a newly developed tool to quantify the very real social and economic benefits a programme of urban greenspace would deliver to local communities.

The programme shows how a series of greenspace interventions focused within some of the UK’s most deprived urban neighbourhoods, where there are clear and significant gaps, would support a recovery which levels up health inequalities and supports struggling local economies.

This report demonstrates how a £5.5bn capital investment in this programme, would deliver £200bn in physical health and wellbeing benefits to these most disadvantaged communities, in tandem with the active travel, biodiversity, carbon capture and air quality enhancements green infrastructure provides in support of our journey towards net zero.

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