Fields in Trust

PROTECT: Century of green spaces protected for good in 2019

Posted on 24th December 2019
Over the course of 2019 our work has led to another 101 parks and green spaces across the UK gaining legal protection in perpetuity.

Through work to champion and support parks and green spaces, Fields in Trust's core aim is to protect these vital neighbourhood resources in perpetuity, to ensure they will always remain as places to help us stay physically and mentally well, come together and build communities.

Over the course of 2019 our work has led to another 101 parks and green spaces across the UK gaining this legal protection in perpetuity.

Our Summer of Parks led conversations on topics relating to parks and green spaces and during the week on protection of green spaces, we learned more about what protection is, how it works and what it means, as well as seeing the impact of this work and shining a spotlight on how Glasgow City Council used evidence to show them where they needed to act in protecting their dear green places. We also heard from our Solicitor, Stanka Dimova, on her role in this protection process.

Our protection work during 2019 has seen the conclusion of the Centenary Fields programme, continuation of Active Spaces as well as more parks protected as Green Spaces for Good.

Centenary Fields

Centenary Fields was launched in 2014 in partnership with The Royal British Legion to mark the centenary of the end of World War I. In the time since it has seen spaces across the UK protected in memory of those who fell during the Great War. This year, a further 60 spaces covering 197.4 hectares of land were protected under the Centenary Fields programme.

The spaces protected included those containing memorials to the fallen, those with individual stories linking them to World War I and those which themselves served the war effort. Kirklees Meadows near Wigan, Greater Manchester, is today a haven for wildlife but was once the largest iron and steel works in Europe. Coming under Government control as a munitions works in 1914, approximately 3,970 men from the site enlisted, whilst the flames from its blast furnace reportedly attracted the 1918 Zeppelin raid on Wigan.

Kirklees Meadows
Wigan, Greater Manchester

Memorial Gardens
Holywell, Flintshire

War Memorial Park
Ballyclare, County Antrim

Wilton Lodge Park
Hawick, Scottish Borders

In Scotland, East Ayrshire Council and Scottish Borders Council protected seven spaces as Centenary Fields between them, including Wilton Lodge Park which is one of the largest parks in the Scottish Borders area. The cenotaph, originally erected in 1921, to those who fell in the two World Wars features a bronze statue, 'Spirit of Youth Triumphing over Evil', by Alexander Leslie whilst the Wilton Lodge Museum at the space houses the town's collection of hand-painted war memorial inscriptions.

Active Spaces

Active Spaces is working to protect 50 spaces across the UK and create activity projects to inspire the most inactive communities to get active and use these local parks and green spaces. Funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Active Spaces is their first nationwide funding initiative and is creating a lasting legacy of activity in communities across the UK. A further 23 spaces covering 137.4 hectares of land were protected in 2019, with the final ten spaces as part of the programme due to complete their protection process in the new year.

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council added to their total portfolio of 27 spaces protected with Fields in Trust by securing two parks through Active Spaces this year, including Gelligaled Park which in addition to its activation grant has been awarded a £25,000 capital project grant through the programme. This is contributing to extensive improvements to the space including a 'Learn and Burn' trail, walking/running routes, bike trails, a family fun area and a wellness zone.

Gelligaled Park
Ystrad Rhondda, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Norbury Park
Croydon, Greater London

Shaftesbury Park
Carrickfergus, County Antrim

Sutton Park
St. Helens, Merseyside

In Northern Ireland, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council added Shaftesbury Park to their portfolio of nine spaces protected with Fields in Trust. A twelve-week Healthy Active Carrickfergus programme saw sessions including a Couch to 5k initiative, a weekly exercise programme aimed at adults - 'Shaftesbury Shifters' - and a dance programme - 'Dancing in the Park'. Prior to the start of the programme 30% of participants were inactive and a further 25% were just meeting the minimum level of activity of 30 minutes per week. Following its completion, however, all of the participants were achieving at least this minimum level of activity, with the majority achieving an hour or more activity each week. All participants agreed that the green space was important in getting them more active and that its protection was important to them.

Indeed, the impact of the programme is being felt across the UK, with our spotlight on Sutton Park in St. Helens telling how early data has shown participants in the space's activation project reporting improved confidence and resilience. Earlier this year we heard from participants at the Active Spaces project at Western Road Recreation Ground in Hailsham, East Sussex about how they have felt better in themselves whilst increasing their sense of community through their regular activation sessions.

Green Spaces for Good

Finally, a further 42 hectares of Green Spaces for Good were protected for sport, nature and play during 2019, including community parks, playing fields, play areas, pocket parks, woodland and a local nature reserve.

Fibbersley Local Nature Reserve is one of Walsall's finest wetland sites and features extensive wildflower grasslands, marshes and ponds. This 17-hectare space is home to over 70 species and is protected as a Green Space for Good, taking Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council's portfolio of protected spaces to eleven.

Both urban and rural communities have benefitted from Green Spaces for Good over the last year, including some for whom the protected space is amongst limited formal provision for sport and play. Rainbow Lane Play Area provides a well-equipped play space for youngsters in the North Yorkshire town of Malton including a zip wire and modern play equipment, as well as an outdoor gym for adults. Great Alne Recreation Ground in Great Alne, Warwickshire, meanwhile, comprises play equipment for toddler age children as well as for older children, a 5-a-side football pitch as well as plenty of green space.

Great Alne Recreation Ground
Great Alne, Warwickshire

Hob Hey Wood
Frodsham, Cheshire

Lochside Park
Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Rainbow Lane Play Area
Malton, North Yorkshire

This year we worked with 65 different landowners - 45 local authorities, 17 town and parish councils and three community groups and charities - to safeguard parks and green spaces for their neighbourhoods in perpetuity. Our work spanned each of the Home Nations with 68 spaces protected in England, four in Northern Ireland, 17 in Scotland and 12 in Wales.

Applying our evidence-led approach to protecting parks and green spaces, next year will see more green spaces protected for good in communities across the UK where the benefits of this legal safeguarding in perpetuity will be felt the most.

More information on what Fields in Trust protection is, how it works and what it means is available and an overview of the protection process is explained in the below video.

If you would like to support our work protecting Green Spaces for Good in 2020 and in perpetuity, you can join as a valued Friend of Fields in Trust for as little as £2 a month.

How to Protect: Find out the protection process and about our Deed of Dedication

Green Spaces for Good: Green spaces are good, do good and need to be protected for good

Have a Field Day: Host a party or a picnic in your park this July

Research: Revaluing parks and green spaces