National Lottery cash revives run-down UK parks

The ponds at Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes

Seven historic parks are to be restored, rejuvenated and reimagined for future generations to enjoy, following news of £11.4m of National Lottery investment. The news comes as people across the UK celebrate Love Parks Week.

The parks receiving money range from expansive country parks spanning over 300 acres to historic urban parks of just 40 acres, alongside an elegant Victorian seaside gardens.

Now, thanks to this money raised through the sale of National Lottery tickets, these important spaces will be sustained for the future by restoring historic features and planting; creating new facilities including play areas, cafes and toilets; and improving habitats for wildlife.

The National Lottery money has been awarded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund England. The Parks receiving funding are:

Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund joint grants in England

  • Headstone Manor Park, London - £1.1m
  • Faversham Recreation Ground, Faversham - £1.6m
  • Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes - £3.1m
  • The Mount Pavilion & Gardens, Fleetwood - £2m
  • Durlston Country Park, Swanage - £900,200

HLF only funded grants in Wales and Scotland

  • Aden Country Park, Mintlaw , Aberdeenshire - £1.6m
  • Mold Castle, Bailey Hill, Flintshire - £963,700

HLF’s Chief Executive Ros Kerslake, said: “From expansive cliff-top country parks to pocket-sized urban havens, our parks may vary in size, location and design but what they all have in common is the wealth of benefits they deliver to local communities. From economic prosperity and ecological diversity to personal well-being, parks are essential to the health of the nation. That’s why we have invested a combined £950m of National Lottery funding in regenerating parks and urban greenspaces so far, and they remain a priority for us into the future.”

Durlston Country Park near Swanage, Dorset (£900,000) - Durlston Country Park is a cliff-top National Nature Reserve (NNR) and one of the UK’s best sites for wildlife. It is located within the Durlston Park Estate, which was developed in the late 19th century by George Burt, who bought land around Durlston Head with the aim of creating a park and housing development. The park was created but the houses were never built.

The funding will now enable the park to be restored and enhanced. New planting and habitat management will benefit wildlife and the tranquillity of the area will be maintained. The project will also help Durlston become one of the best places in the country for people with disabilities or reduced mobility to enjoy wildlife and the countryside.

Aden Country Park, Mintlaw in Aberdeenshire (£1,687,000) - Originally the site of a medieval deer monastery, Aden Country Park was for more than 200 years, the home and gardens of the Russell family.

During the Second World War, it was used as an army barracks and it suffered a good deal of damage. After the war the house was left to fall into ruin. Aberdeenshire Council recognised its value as an area of stunning natural beauty with a wide diversity of architectural features, habitats and woodlands and purchased it in 1974. It was designated a country park the following year.

40 years later, this money will enable the council to establish Aden as a park which reflects its past. It wants to improve the visitor experience, expand and increase opportunities for biodiversity, whilst protecting and recording unexplored aspects of the park – including a Bronze Age structure and Keith Tower House.

The Mount Pavilion and Gardens, Fleetwood, Lancashire (£2,019,400) - A local landmark, The Mount Pavilion and its Grade II registered gardens were designed by the eminent architect and landscape designer Decimus Burton in the 1800s. This funding will enable the pavilion to be restored and brought back into regular use as an education centre, exhibition space and a function room for public events and receptions.

The park’s lodge building will also be restored. The upper floor will be opened as a tearoom and the lower floors will be used as a base room for volunteers helping on the grounds. Many of the lost landscape features will be replaced and the Mary Hope Garden, originally designed in the 1960s for people who were blind, will be rejuvenated. There will be planting schemes for wildlife and a new play area will be created.

Headstone Manor Park, London (£1,126,900) - Headstone Manor Park spans 23 hectares and is all that remains of the much larger, ancient 'Heggeston' farm, which was first recorded from 1300. Farming continued on the land up until 1928, when it was purchased by the then local authority, Hendon Rural District Council, to create a public park.

The park is designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and surrounds the 13th-century moated Headstone Manor, which is now a museum. The project will regenerate all aspects of the park complementing the recently restored HLF funded Headstone Manor Museum, buildings and new visitor centre. It will restore the water-filled historic 14th-century moat and parts of Yeading Brook will be widened making space for wetlands to improve habitats;

Faversham Recreation Ground, Faversham, Kent (£1,602,000) - Faversham Recreation Ground (locally known as FavershamRec) was established in 1860 by a local solicitor, Henry Wreight, who bequeathed his £70,000 estate. It was also funded also by subscriptions from the people of the towns.  A bandstand was added towards the end of the 19th century, and sporting events began to be held on the rec.

This new money will enable the refurbishment of the former gardener’s lodge and loggias; restoration of original wrought iron gates and boundary fence; reinstatement of some areas of historical planting and paths; improvements to both the play area and skate park and creating an outdoor performance space.

Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes (£3,161,800) - Covering an area of 16 hectares and the grounds of a former manor house, Great Linford Manor Park sits on the edge of Milton Keynes. Its landscape includes 17th and 18th-century features including the water gardens and a wilderness garden believed to have been the work of Richard Woods, a contemporary of Capability Brown. It was first established as public parkland by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the 1970s.

The project aims to restore the rich heritage of the park, including original garden features such as the 18th-century pond and cascade.  Areas of wildflower meadow will be extended and the old limestone quarry in the park made more accessible for people to learn about the local geological heritage. There will be a new play trail for children and more seating. A new volunteer group, the Friends of Great Linford Manor Park, has also been established with the support of this project.

Mold Castle’s Bailey Hill, Mold, Flintshire (£963,700) - Bailey Hill Park surrounds the extensive remains of the 11th-century Mold Castle, built by the Lords of Molsdale. It has an illustrious history: destroyed by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (Prince of Gwynedd) in 1199 and repaired; it was taken by Dafydd ap Llywelyn (Prince of Wales) in 1245; and reclaimed by Edward I in 1276.

It was established as a park in the 1920s by Mold Urban District Council and works at the time included the addition of gates, tennis courts and cenotaph. The Gorsedd Stone Circles were erected in 1922 for the proclamation of Welsh Cultural Festival: the National Eisteddfod.

This money will now enable the park to be refurbished and upgraded, making it an accessible, safe and vibrant space, while revealing and protecting its remarkable history of the site.

Notes to editors

Since 1996, more than £950m raised by National Lottery players has been used to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries across the UK. Find out more about how to apply.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported

About the Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. We put people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year we awarded £583m and supported around 12,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. Since June 2004 we have awarded over £8b to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

State of the UK Parks

In September 2016, HLF published the State of UK Public Parks 2016, a follow-up to its 2014 report.

This second report revealed there is a growing deficit between the rising use of parks and the declining resources that are available to manage them. Without urgent action the continuing downward trend in the condition of many of our most treasured parks and green spaces is set to continue. 

Whilst new ways of working and generating income are showing potential, more support, shared learning and collaboration is needed to support those that manage public parks.  Therefore, this research calls for collaborative action to deliver new ways of funding and managing public parks to avert a crisis.

CLG Select Committee – Public parks inquiry

HLF submitted evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry in to the future of public parks. The Committee’s recommendations published in early 2017.

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