Community Spaces, a £58 million Big Lottery Fund programme managed by Groundwork UK, saw more than 900 community groups across England create or restore playgrounds, parks, allotments, gardens, wildlife areas and other public open spaces in their neighbourhoods.
Many of the groups involved had little or no experience of running major projects, so Groundwork-appointed expert facilitators worked with them through the entire process – from initial public consultation, through planning processes, tendering, contract management and final construction.
All successful groups qualified for sustainability funding of between £3,000 and £30,000 once they had completed the capital works, helping them to ensure a long life for their project and widen its appeal.
Independent evaluation of Community Spaces has shown that by the end of the programme in March 2014 the project had seen:
- Almost 8 million m² of land improved
- More than 84,000 trees planted
- More than 1,700 schools involved
- 94,000 days of individuals’ time dedicated
- 25,000 days of partners’ time dedicated
- 9.3 million individual beneficiaries
- 11,850 organisations involved
Anti-social behaviour, vandalism, litter, graffiti and dog fouling are all decreasing as a result of Community Spaces projects.
An extension to the Community Spaces programme saw extra money provided to groups to improve their sustainability. Grants were also made for groups to ‘Celebrate Their Space’ with community events.
Graham Duxbury, Chief Executive of Groundwork UK, said: “A fundamental principle behind Community Spaces has always been that we should help community groups to make a difference now and in the future.
“Our support has seen the creation or improvement of hundreds of playgrounds, parks, allotments and biodiversity projects across England and helped community groups to continue to make a difference.
“It’s a legacy of which we are very proud.”
Peter Wanless, Chief Executive, Big Lottery Fund (2008-2013) said: "Groundwork's Community Spaces programme has supported hundreds of communities across England in improving their local green spaces. Recently, we provided further funding to help them to continue to make a difference in these tough economic times. We are confident Groundwork will make this happen."
Click here to read the End of Programme Evaluation of Community Spaces
Quotes from community groups
“The site we developed has gone from being the area's most derided eyesore to the most highly praised green space in the area.”
“The local children take great pride in their new park and the sense of comradeship and friendship the park has generated is brilliant. Everyone works together to keep the park clean and it is used every day by all ages. A vast improvement as it was rarely used before the work was done.”
“Since being awarded the Community Spaces grant to renovate our local playing field we have seen some amazing changes in our village. Not only do we now have a really beautiful, inspiring and fun place for children to play in, but we have seen a massive increase in the number of village groups, organisations and activities happening.”
“When we originally applied to Community Spaces we had very little experience of such major funding applications, but we continued as we were dedicated to upgrading our local playground. During the application process we learnt many things about our local area and planning laws/issues. The sense of achievement gained when we heard we were successful was immense and the confidence gained was immeasurable.”