The UK’s public parks are in decline because of a lack of funding and many local authorities are considering selling them off – despite being one of the most used public services – a new report has found.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has warned that unless new funds are allocated to public parks, they are at risk of decline or being sold off, with 86% of park managers reporting cuts to revenue budgets since 2010.
Declining budgets could mean less staff and services, such as toilets, cafes or playgrounds, while 45% of local authorities are currently considering selling green spaces or transferring their management to others.
Chair of the HLF Dame Jenny Abramsky said, “Parks are highly valued, precious places that are vital to our physical and emotional wellbeing.
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“We realise these are financially tough times and that is why we need collaborative action and a fresh approach to halt this threat of decline and stop this cycle of boom and bust. Our parks are far too important not to act now.”
The report noted that parks are one of UK’s most heavily used public services, with 71% of users saying they believe parks play an important or essential role to their quality of life. Research published earlier this year found that green spaces have lasting benefits on people’s mental health.
Harry Bowell, regional director at the National Trust, commented, “We know people love being outdoors and some of their most treasured spaces to relax and play are those on their doorstep, their local parks and green spaces.
“This ground-breaking report from HLF is a wake-up call. The traditional model for funding public parks is breaking down and bold new ideas are needed. We want to help find solutions that could work in every city and town.”