Lambeth’s parks and green spaces are amongst the best in London. Whether it’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in the north or Streatham Common in the south, there are over sixty parks and green spaces for residents to enjoy. Twelve have been awarded green flags – meaning that they are officially ranked amongst the very best in the country. Our parks are special and we will continue to protect them.
A report released this weekend shows the impact of huge central Government cuts on green spaces across the country. Figures suggest Newcastle’s parks budget has fallen from £3m to £0.3m in five years.
Lambeth has been affected too. The 56% cut in our central government funding has meant that we have had to reduce our parks budget. However, our priority has been to manage this challenge in a way that minimises the impact on parks users. We have cut back office costs, brought the maintenance service in-house and introduced a ‘Parks Investment Levy’ so that the proceeds from major events can be reinvested in our parks.
We have also looked at opportunities for augmenting the reduced budget by earning more from the parks’ assets, such as introducing licensing for fitness trainers or professional dog walkers. This will only be done after careful consideration– there are no proposals to charge for Parkruns, for example.
I’m confident that the vast majority of residents will have noticed little difference - 76% say that their local park is ‘good or excellent’ according to a recent residents survery. We want to keep it that way.
The council works very closely with Friends of Parks groups and together a new Parks Charter is being drawn up. This will set out and define the partnership between Lambeth and the Lambeth Parks Forum (the representative body of park users) and will cover things like oversight of the budget, maintenance, consultation on nearby planning applications and how any available money (Section 106 or CIL) will be spent. It will also create a forum where users can propose initiatives, express concerns and receive regular feedback on the management of parks.
Finally, on a very positive note, in January 2015 Lambeth’s Cabinet approved a “Parks Capital Investment Programme”, paving the way for over £20m of investment up to 2019.
Around £11m of this will come from Lambeth and the remainder from external sources such as the Heritage Lottery. Amongst the approved projects are new sports pitches and changing rooms in Archbishops Park, replacement of the run-down playground in Streatham Common, the redevelopment of the old depot at Myatt’s Field to provide new community facilities and money for Brixton Windmill to expand their educational activities. You can find more details on our website: https://www.lambeth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/pts-draft-parks-capital-investment-plan-2014.pdf
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business & Culture