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Plywood Park Hack cube used for community consultation

Thinking outside the bright green box to sustain local parks

Posted on 26 February 2016


Groundwork has welcomed the lessons and recommendations in a national study Rethinking Parks, a programme run by Nesta, Big Lottery Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, that has sought to find innovative ways to sustain and maintain UK parks.  

The programme introduced different working models to test new approaches to raise income or reduce running costs, including recruiting volunteers, encouraging public donations and enlisting the help of local businesses to assess whether local parks can be sustainable and maximise their potential despite pressure from public spending cuts.

This fresh-thinking initiative to improve access to green space is an approach that Groundwork champions, with the idea that creating new approaches to tackle funding-cuts head on and encouraging public and community involvement can ensure new ideas can be bought to the table.

Graham Duxbury, CEO of Groundwork UK, said:

“At Groundwork, we see first-hand the positive effect that comes from shaking up the status quo and allowing communities and local people make decisions and shape their local services.

“Groundwork began 35 years ago as an experiment aimed at developing a new approach to improving and managing local environments with the support of councils, business and communities. This pioneering approach to putting local people in control and making the most of scarce resources has never been more needed.”

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved with the programme,” Graham added. “We hope that this programme goes a long way to inspire a new wave of forward thinking when it comes to local parks and greenspace.” 

Darlington Rethinking Parks

One of the projects that has benefited from this new approach is Darlington Rethinking Parks, a project run by Groundwork North East and Darlington Council who encouraged and enlisted local businesses to volunteer to improve local parks by offering hands-on support to local friends groups to create a stronger bond of corporate and social responsibility.


ParkHack, run by Groundwork London and London Borough of Hackney also focused on how businesses can contribute to the sustainability of local parks, through a team of ‘Park Hack Innovators’ who led the development of new business friendly facilities in parks including a tree-house workspace. 

To read the full report, please click here.

To find out more about how Groundwork is working to help communities improve the green spaces that matter to them please click here.


 Notes to Editors:

  • For further comment, please contact Stacey Aplin, PR and Communications Officer on or call 0121 237 5815 or 07793844627.
  • Groundwork is the community charity with a green heart.  We want places to look better, streets to be safer and outside areas to be green and beautiful.  We want people of all ages to be able to do stuff together to make the best of where they live.  We want to improve job prospects by offering training and employment opportunities.  We want to show people how they can make their homes and workplaces better for the environment and cheaper to run. For further information, please visit the website.
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