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Underused spaces could convert into ‘pocket parks’ with local £1.5m fund

Local authorities will be able to back community groups in applying for a share of £1.5m funding to transform underused sites into metropolitan ‘pocket parks’.

The fund, made available today (9 November) by the DCLG, will draw inspiration from the small parks that emerged in New York during the 1960s as a green refuge from skyscrapers.

The most famous example of this is the award-winning Paley Park in Manhattan (pictured), which features a 20ft waterfall and overhead canopy of locust trees.

Proposals could see up to 100 under-used locations or run-down gardens regenerated into “green oases” in the middle of bustling neighbourhoods.

Communities minister Marcus Jones said they will be particularly important in town centres, where many residents don’t have their own gardens.

The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment survey also showed that parks in towns and cities were the most frequently visited destinations in 2013-14, accounting for around 778 million visits. This was significantly ahead of other destinations, including cycle paths (461m), woodlands and forests (378m), and rivers and lakes (269m).

Greg Clark MP, communities secretary, said: “Parks and green spaces give us all a chance to relax and unwind from the rigours of modern life. They breathe life into our bustling towns and cities, and provide valuable space for communities to socialise, take part in exercise and children to play.

“Today’s £1.5m funding for pocket parks will help transform scores of unloved spaces across our country, providing communities with parks that will be enjoyed for years to come.”

The programme will also build on similar achievements in the capital, where a number of pocket parks – such as St Luke’s Wildlife Garden in Hackney and the Dinosaur Play Park in Haringey – were already created.

For the purpose of this fund, pocket parks are defined as a piece of land of up to 0.4 hectares, although many can be as small as 0.02 hectares.

Interested councils can apply for a share of the fund here.

(Top image c. saitowitz)


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