Parks are at risk of decline in spite of big lottery investment

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PUBLIC parks are at risk of rapid decline unless there is more investment and commitment – research shows.

A report by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which has invested more than £75m into parks – calls for collaborative national and local action to deliver new ways of 
funding and managing the south east’s parks to avert a crisis.

Stuart McLeod, head of HLF South East, said: ‘Thousands of people across the south east visit their local public park daily.

‘They are highly valued for the physical and emotional benefits they provide. And thanks to National Lottery players, parks across the region have never been in such great shape.

‘But these are financially challenging times and if we are to successfully halt the on-set of decline and avoid wasting this investment, we need to come together now to find innovative and sustainable models of funding and maintaining these highly-valued community spaces.’

The State of UK Public Parks 2016 research shows 57 per cent of adults use their parks at least once a month or more – up three per cent from 2014.

The report also shows 10 per cent of parks in the south east are expected to be in decline in the next three years.

And it outlines the continuing need to develop innovative mixed model approaches to funding parks, such as local authority commitment, commercial opportunities and fundraising.

The HLF and Big Lottery Fund will continue to fund capital improvements.