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Paying for parks

Sets out the main options for funding the management and maintenance of urban green space.

Urban parks: do you know what you’re getting for your money? found that the sustainability of revenue funding is a big issue for parks and green spaces.

Paying for Parks: eight models for funding urban green space considers how management and maintenance of urban green space is funded throughout the world, recommends funding models that could be applied in England.

Environmental infrastructure increasingly plays an important role in adapting our areas to climate change and mitigating its effects. This may provide an additional opportunity for funding for urban green spaces.

Eight funding models

  1. traditional local authority funding
  2. multi-agency public sector funding
  3. taxation initiatives
  4. planning and development opportunities
  5. bonds and commercial finance
  6. income-generating opportunities
  7. endowments
  8. voluntary and community sector involvement

Barriers to innovative funding models in England

  • lack of awareness of the value of green space among key decision-makers and funders
  • restrictions on the ability of local authorities to set and control local taxes and influence local business rates
  • lack of financial management skills and capacity in many local authorities and the voluntary and community sector
  • the vulnerability of funding for urban green space to cuts and competition from other services within local authorities
  • low levels of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy in the English private sector
  • the inability of many local authority parks departments to ring-fence funding.

Conclusions about paying for parks

  • It is important to set up dedicated funding and management arrangements from the start
  • Successful urban green space funding is often underpinned by a strategic approach to funding and management
  • The success of funding models is inextricably linked to the physical, political and social context within which the green space is located
  • Market-driven models are more applicable in areas of high housing demand, allowing these areas greater flexibility
  • The skills and capacity of those running green spaces have a clear impact on the quality and sustainability of spaces
  • Although each of the funding models could provide finance for green space, the level of additional or ‘new’ funding varies
  • Legislative reform in England years has created a flexible statutory environment, encouraging more sophisticated funding mechanisms
  • Some models access finance in the short term, other models require more long-term developmental work
  • Endowments can be very effective in ensuring a long-term income to fund green space maintenance.