It’s Love Parks Week and we want to celebrate our Top Ten Place-keeping places where there is management of green and open spaces for the long term is happening. Too often the focus is on creating new places - funding is put into the design without thinking about how successful places need sustained attention, or place-keeping. Below is our very biased list of great UK examples of place-keeping in action. We would like to hear your suggestions of places that just keep on getting better.
1. Incredible edible, Todmorden
This is without a doubt one of our favourite examples of place-keeping. We think it is brilliant how a few community members wanting to improve their town have inspired a whole social movement, gaining worldwide attention. There are incredible edible schemes popping up everywhere. ‘Ask forgiveness not permission’ is such a simple mantra, but one that requires a real shift in mind-sets.
2. Green estate, Sheffield
Based in the city’s most deprived area, Green Estate is a social enterprise with the aim of improving the area’s urban ‘estate’ transforming open spaces from liabilities to productive assets. Green Estate takes a long-term approach to making positive change in the area, favouring place-keeping over capital-intensive place-making: more information here (link to 1-page summary case study).
3. Brockwell park, London
London has big parks with funding and here it is used well. There is a constant flow of activity and new things being created. If only all our parks were like this!
4. Letchworth Garden City
Letchworth was created at the turn of the 20th century with place-keeping in mind, although the phrase would not be coined until over a century later! Ebenezer Howard planned Letchworth to combine the best of town and country to ensure that all residents had access to a range of different types of green and open space – allotments, private gardens, public spaces, nature reserves…Whether or not the low-density model is sustainable in every sense of the (vague) term, it has been adopted around the world (e.g. Seaside, Florida; Canberra, Australia) is enjoying something of a comeback in the UK
5. River Stewardship Company, Sheffield
RSC aims to protect and improve the urban river corridors in Sheffield for all users, including the non-human ones! A not-for-profit social enterprise, it works in partnership with riverside businesses such as the Meadowhall shopping centre and community organisations such as the Five Weirs Walk to deliver a high quality waterway management service. One way you can get connected with people who care about Sheffield’s waterways is through Riverlution
6. The Water of Leith, Edinburgh
The Water of Leith Action Group, established in 1980, brought together public, private and third sector organisations to work in partnership to tackle management issues along the Water of Leith that runs through Edinburgh. The result is a fantastic walkway along the river, visitor centre, a host of activities and events and a long-term management plan to further improve the river in a way that balances the interests of all stakeholders.
7. Abundance, Grow Sheffield
In 2007 in Sheffield Grow Sheffield got together a group of volunteers to gather the surplus of fruit growing across Sheffield and re-distribute this to the local community not for profit. Since then it has gone from strength to strength with a network of places across the country starting to do the same.
8. Sheffield Green Spaces Forum http://www.sgsf.org.uk/sgsf/
Sheffield Green Spaces Forum supports the many community groups, charities, volunteer and Friends of groups that work to manage and maintain the green and open spaces that are so valuable to the local communities they serve, and the city as a whole. There are other Green Spaces Forums across the country and a national umbrella organisation, the National Federation of Parks And Green Spaces
9. Scottswood Natural Community Garden, Newcastle
This two-acre award winning organic garden was established on the site of an old school playing field in 1995. The aim was to bring nature in to the heart of the local community, providing a ‘great place for people and wildlife to enjoy’. Packed into the 2.5 acre site visitors can enjoy a range of habitats – ponds and meadows, orchards and vegetable plots design along permaculture principles. Volunteer support is central to managing the site and the charity, hosts a wide range of community events and workshops throughout the year.
10. The Parks Trust, Milton Keynes
In Milton Keynes the public green and open spaces are managed by an independent charity rather than a local authority model that is the norm in most towns and cities. This means that cuts to budgets or changes in local priorities do not effect the management of the landscape.
Please do get in touch with suggestions of different models of place-keeping that really work for everyone.