Peter Neal presented his evening lecture at the place-keeping conference 2014 on rethinking parks - exploring new business models for the 21st Century to fund public green and open spaces. He discussed a number of case studies from around the world employing funding models involving both the public and private sector.
Examples included from the UK included Potters Fields Park, Southwark, where private company’s pay to use the park for product launches; Gladstone Glass House, Stanley Park, Liverpool, where the regeneration of a key park asset now brings in income to maintain the surrounding park; and Letchworth Garden City where the £35 million of assets have been invested as an endowment to manage the green spaces for the long term.
Peter showed an example from the US where green spaces have a huge following of people via Friends of the Hudson River in New York with thousands of members including a number of high profile people who continually raise money to manage the developed space.
He focused on the need to understand how funding is context specific; private/ public funding partnerships will not work everywhere but can work in an area where the private sector needs to use space for publicity such as Potters Field Park. Peter showed how many different funding options have been explored and that looking to different models of funding provided by case studies can provide decision makers with alternative models. Although there are challenges due to cuts to traditional public funding of green and open spaces, there are opportunities to try a different models. Throughout the talk there was mention of the heritage lottery fund’s commissioned survey on the state of the UK’s public parks that has now been published.
There was a debate in the audience about the relevance of private/ public partnerships to publically owned parks. The key questions of the conference were should own, who should manage and who should care care for our urban green and open spaces? We would welcome responses, reflections on this, examples of where there have been successful partnerships that have managed green and open spaces or where this model failed. What are your thoughts on the heritage lottery report?