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Nearly 200 derelict sites to be turned into ‘pocket parks’

Nearly 200 derelict green and urban spaces across the country will be transformed into new ‘pocket parks’, Parks Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed today (March 26).

The Pocket Parks Plus Programme called on local communities to bid for a share of up to £15,000 to build new ‘pocket parks’ and up to £25,000 to renovate existing parks.

The £3.75m programme will mean community-led groups from Alton in Hampshire to Widnes in Cumbria will receive funding to help bring parks that have fallen into disrepair back into use, as well as creating new ones.

The government define a pocket park as a piece of land of up to 0.4 hectares (although many are around 0.02 hectares, the size of a tennis court) which may already be under grass, but which is unused, undeveloped or derelict.

Among the successful schemes to be funded will Flood Meadows in Alton, Hampshire – led by Amery Hill Residents Association. They will receive £25,000 to help them make a stretch of the River Wey more accessible, including the creation of a new pathway to encourage community access, a platform made of recycled plastic where children can take part in educational pond dipping sessions, and protection of the local riverbank.

Rishi Sunak said: ‘Parks and green spaces – no matter what size – are huge assets to our towns and cities and offer us all opportunities to relax, socialise, exercise and play.

‘From grabbing a quick break from the pressures of everyday life, to walking the dog, parks offer a place to get close to nature and can help people overcome social isolation and engage with their communities and can help people overcome social isolation.’

‘From the creation of valuable new green spots to the day-to-day upkeep of public places, the Pocket Parks Plus Programme gives local leaders and their communities the means to better maintain, protect and enhance their treasured green spaces.’

The government has also confirmed today that they will award £9.7m of new funding to local authorities to better maintain, protect and increase their recreational spaces.

They will also award over a million pounds to the National Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Future Parks Accelerator initiative to test new and innovative approaches to managing and funding parks.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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