Public Parks

The Gardens Trust has been campaigning to protect public parks for many years. Despite a revival in public parks at the end of the twentieth century, they now face a desperate future. Spending cuts mean that local authority can no longer afford to maintain them and some are at risk from development.

The Gardens Trust was one of the founding organisations of the Parks Charter in 2018. The Parks Charter calls on government to protect our parks because of the serious long-term damage caused by budget cuts and lack of investment. The Charter was signed by over 100 organisations and the campaign was backed by a major national newspaper.

Uncertain Prospects

In November 2016, the Gardens Trust launched the report ‘Uncertain Prospects: Public parks in the age of austerity’ at the first Historic Landscape Assembly. ‘Uncertain Prospects’ celebrated a renaissance in public parks but warned that parks face a desperate future. The pressures of spending cuts mean that local authority can no longer afford to maintain them properly. This followed ‘Public Prospects: Urban parks under threat’ which was published by the Garden History Society and Victorian Society in 1993. That report highlighted the problems facing historic urban parks and was influential.

2016 Government inquiry

Earlier in 2016 a government inquiry into the state of public parks had been set up, in order to look at:

  • The impact of cuts in local authority budgets on parks
  • The administrative status of parks given that local authority have shrinking resources
  • How to support new and existing parks
  • What additional or alternative funding is available and how local authorities could generate revenue from park users
  • The advantages and disadvantages of other ways of managing parks, such as privatisation or outsourcing

The Gardens Trust submitted a response written by Dr. Katy Layton Jones, and she also gave evidence to the inquiry in person.

Unfortunately, the government’s report on the future of public parks was disappointing. The inquiry recognised the crisis facing parks, but it failed to address the problems of funding and managing parks adequately.

Sign the Parks Charter

Download Uncertain Prospects: Public parks in the age of austerity