Public parks and urban green spaces

Our ongoing commitment to parks and green spaces

The National Lottery has invested more than £950m in public parks and cemeteries over the last 25 years. It has helped transform over 900 parks across every corner of the UK, improving the experience for the 37million people that use public parks every year.

Brooke Park, Derry
Brooke Park, Derry

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Since March this year, all our efforts at The National Lottery Heritage Fund have been focused on supporting heritage across the UK to adapt and respond to the immediate impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), including our treasured parks.

The effects of the pandemic has seen an appreciation for the value of urban green spaces that hasn't existed since the Victorian era. Parks have been extremely important to many people during 2020, not only for their social and physical health benefits, but also for the mental health and wellbeing support they have provided.

We at The Fund are extremely grateful to all the parks staff across the UK who have worked extra hard to keep these vital spaces open during a very demanding and challenging time. Thank you!

Staff tree planting in Grosvenor Park, Kent
Staff tree planting in Grosvenor Park, Kent

Our mission now is to support the heritage sector to consolidate its recovery in the medium term. From 25 November 2020 we are launching a phased reopening of project funding through our National Lottery Grants for Heritage in order to to achieve this.

Support for parks

Running a park in a pandemic is no easy feat. So alongside our available funding, we've pulled together some advice and guidance to help parks survive and reopen their gates.

Take a look at our advice for the safe management of parks and green spaces in Scotland, and read our guidance to help parks in England reopen.

Pandemic and parks research

We have funded vital research into parks during the pandemic alongside the Local Government Association, CFP, The National Trust, Greenspace Scotland, and more. This research has provided insight into the value of parks during 2020, as well as some useful management advice and guidance for parks in the UK.

A couple walking through a park

We have produced a report with Greenspace Scotland which offers management guidance for parks and green spaces in Scotland during COVID-19. We also worked with the Local Government Association to create guidance around managing parks in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know the significant contribution that parks have played during the pandemic but research findings have highlighted the financial impact of COVID-19 on parks. This research delves into the challenges parks have faced due to the pandemic, such as increased footfall alongside loss of income and voluntary support. 

New ways of funding parks

Future Parks Accelerator

Future Parks illustration of a family enjoying a park

Future Parks Accelerator is a collaboration with the National Trust and nine different Local Authorities and their partners, along with financial support from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. We launched this UK-wide £10 million strategic initiative in 2018, in order to help secure a future for urban parks and green spaces.

We are keen to find ambitious and sustainable solutions to protect and enhance the local green spaces that really matter to communities. From parks, woodlands and cemeteries to allotments, playing fields and nature reserves.

Projects are exploring how these spaces could be better used, managed and funded to serve community needs and aspirations, now and over the next generations to come.

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Rethinking Parks 

A joint £1million programme between Nesta, The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund and Community Fund launched in 2013. It aimed to fund and support parks innovators to develop, implement and spread new approaches to sustaining and making the most of public parks in the UK.

Over 20 innovation projects have now been delivered supporting park managers, community groups and other charities to rethink how urban parks and green spaces might be managed and funded in future.

Child sat on a fallen tree in a park, writing in a book

Read a collection of essays about Rethinking Parks, produced by Nesta following the end of the programme in October 2020. You can also discover a series of insightful project updates and a toolkit created by Nesta, which capture the learning experiences of the projects involved with the programme.

Space to Thrive

The Space to Thrive report, published January 2020, is a rapid evidence review of the benefits parks and green spaces have for people and communities.

Its key recommendations are:

  • Parks should be seen as social as well as physical infrastructure.
  • Parks and green spaces should be managed to support health and wellbeing.
  • Parks and green spaces should be managed to encourage connections with nature.

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