Popularity of public parks

Over 37 million people regularly use public parks in the UK each year. They provide places for people to play and get fit. In addition to this they help tackle some of our greatest challenges such as childhood obesity and stress. Due to our increasingly urban lives they are also the only way many town and city dwellers can reconnect with nature.

Our parks add character and identity to neighbourhoods, making them more attractive and healthier places to live. Furthermore, public parks provide an important home to nature and improve sustainability. Despite this our parks and green spaces face an increasingly uncertain future. While public parks are obviously valued by the communities that use them their future may not be so bright. The State of UK Public Parks report published by the Heritage Lottery Fund makes for startling reading.

Friends groups make positive contribution

On a positive note there was a marked increase in the estimated value of volunteering hours which more than doubled to £70m a year since 2014. Funds raised by friends’ groups rose substantially in the same period to reach around £50m a year. The number of adults and households with young children using facilities at least once a month has also risen.

Bleak picture from park managers

In contrast, managers paint a bleak picture with only 27% reporting that their park has improved in the past three years. 92% report cuts to revenue budgets in the same period while a staggering 95% of park managers expect their budget to be cut further over the next three years.

The research consisted of detailed surveys taken from a range of places. In total 193 local authorities with responsibility for around 35 million residents took part in the research. 441 responses were also received from friends’ and user groups who represent almost 40,000 members. Over 2,000 members of the public aged 16 years and over also took part.

If you are as passionate about parks as we are you can have your say too. Take this survey: http://bit.ly/2q8Tyso

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