Sustainable funding for Newcastle's parks

We partnered with The National Trust and Newcastle City Council to develop Urban Green Newcastle: an innovative, sustainable delivery model for the city’s parks and green spaces. 

More than 37 million people visit parks each year but they are competing for funding in stretched council budgets. Parks generate huge social, economic and environmental benefits such as reduction in depression with positive impacts on health and wellbeing, air quality, flood prevention and tourism. 

Without funding solutions, delivery could potentially become untenable, resulting in immediate and long term decline as well as loss of green space.

cut per year from local authority park budgets since 2010 (£330mn)
in wellbeing value generated by frequent use of local parks in UK each year 
say that their park is important or essential to their quality of life 

What we did

We partnered with The National Trust to develop new models for parks, part funded by social investment. In Newcastle, we worked to develop the business case for a city-wide charitable trust which would manage the parks with a blended funding model of endowment and enterprise income.

The endowment provides a secure, sustainable income stream to support the income coming from more enterprising parks management and other sources.

An independent parks trust has a dedicated focus on managing parks for a range of stakeholders and can seek to maximise social and environmental benefits. Being a charity also give financial benefits and the ability to fundraise.

Impact and insights

We combined financial modelling and economic analysis to build a costed business case showing how a new charity could manage the parks in a sustainable way, generating extra economic and social benefit for local residents. 

We engaged with community members, park maintenance staff and friends of” groups using interactive board games that helped draw out a vision for the park’s future, surface concerns, and build consensus on the new delivery model.

Urban Green Newcastle now manages the upkeep of 33 parks and 60 allotment sites across Newcastle, with an exciting programme of events, activities and volunteering opportunities.

We’ve taken learnings from this project as a research partner in the CLEVER Cities consortium – a programme using nature to solve urban challenges and promote social inclusion across Europe. 

Related work

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