New funding models and community co-management are the main themes of the eight parks projects which have secured Rethinking Parks grants.

The Nesta grants – ranging from £145,000- £200,000 – go to two parks foundation projects, a charitable fundraising project, two community co-management projects, a health project, a renewable energy business and a business sponsorshop scheme.

The grants are phase one of two funding awards: one for organisations to set up and test new operating models for parks and a second to support digital and data innovations to tackle parks challenges, the recipients of which will be announced later in the year. Nesta is awarding a total of £1.5m of Lottery money this time around.

The eight projects are:

Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation by Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council (grant £193,617)

Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council have together won nearly £200,000 to develop a parks foundation which will test how public giving, volunteering and social enterprise can be encouraged to benefit parks for public use and enjoyment.  The work will build on and learn from Bournemouth Parks Foundation which was supported by Rethinking Parks in 2014.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Foundation by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (grant £194,375) – North Yorkshire

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council also wants to establish a parks foundation with more of an activity focus, and building on existing work it has done with Sport England on using parks more as assets which can help a community get more physically active.

Leeds Parks Fund: Charitable Giving to Parks by Leeds City Council (grant £175,000) – West Yorkshire

Leeds City Council wants to investigate how a charitable ‘Leeds Parks Fund’ can raise income to pay for management of the city’s parks and green spaces and further involve communities, businessses and other partners in how parks are developed. It will work with Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds University on the project, and consider whether the model could be used in other locations.

Reimagining Par Track: Run Ride Relax Repeat by Par Track (grant £200,000) – Cornwall

This project is led by relatively new community-led organisation Par Track which is located in one of the most deprived wards in the UK. Par Track is a mix of sporting facilities, green space and a recreation area and a local GP Health Centre next to a park. The team will look at how they can offer new services to reduce health inequalities and encourage under-represented and under-supported groups to embrace a healthy lifestyle. The team also wants to develop a school health programme, replicate a local successful ‘social prescribing’ pilot supported by the Eden Project and develop a community share offer to increase engagement and local buy-in to the park.

Powering Parks by 10:10 Climate Action (grant of £170,480) – London

10:10 Climate Action will work with Hackney Council and Scene Consulting in North East London to produce low carbon heat through installing ground source heat pumps within parks, which can heat buildings close to the parks. The Hackney Downs Lido, for example, could save up to 250 tonnes of C02 emissions per year, and up to £520,000 in spending long-term. The team intends to work with local people and create governance structures to manage the income generated for local benefit and also to investigate if it can be replicated in other parks around the UK. Finally it will raise money to aid other parks in replicating the project.

Lordship Rec Co-Management Model by the Friends of Lordship Rec (grant £145,278) – London

The Friends of Lordship Rec will test, develop and analyse the potential of their community empowerment and co-management model set up between Haringey Council and the Lordship Rec User Forum which includes 20 self governing Lordship Rec User Groups. The team will work closely with the council and Nesta to systematically set out their model and promote it elsewhere.

Walsall Connecting Green spaces by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council (grant of £199,836.22) – West Midlands

Walsall Connecting Green spaces aims to build on previous Rethinking Parks programme work in Darlington, to develop five clearly defined business sponsorship packages ranging from promotional and marketing opportunities to structured corporate volunteering activities in different parks. It will look at how this way of working could transfer to other parks services.

Performing Parks – Transforming Local Open Spaces by the Friends of Hardie Park (grant £184,155) – Essex

Performing Parks will build on the success of Hardie Park, where the friends group revived a disused park and made it into a thriving public space with a community cafe and activities. The Friends of Hardie Park will now work on replicating the community ownership at five other local parks and, along with Nesta, will develop a learning and support package so the model can be spread to other areas.

Nesta head of new operating models Alice Casey said: “Our aim is to help parks innovate to ensure they can sustain and develop as free, open and truly valued community spaces for the future.”

HLF head of landscape and natural heritage Drew Bennellick said parks had never been so important and must be protected, particualrly considering increasing concerns around the health of the nation.

“Rethinking Parks is empowering local authorities, businesses and communities to work together to create and test innovative ways of managing and sustaining parks in the future, ensuring the £900 million of National Lottery money invested in them doesn’t go to waste.”

The first £1m Rethinking Parks fund for an 18-month period between 2014 and 2016 and funded 11 teams to test new ideas for funding public parks. Models tested included greater use of herbaceous and wild meadow planting, public donations, mobilising volunteers and friends groups to help with maintenance and the creation of a pop-up meeting space.