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Got a question?

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

What do you mean by public parks or park services?

We're defining parks as: public open spaces laid out formally for leisure and recreation. They might include lakes, ponds, lidos, woodland, flowerbeds, shrubs, ornamental trees, play areas, formal and informal pitches, bowling greens, tennis courts, footpaths, band stands, toilets, cafés and car parks; and parts of some parks might be managed as natural biodiversity and wildlife areas or community growing areas. This programme does include country parks, seafront gardens and city/town green squares with free public access. Cemeteries, commons, greens and recs are not excluded where they are part of a wider proposal, but they should not be the primary focus for a proposal.

What is the focus for the Replication award?

The Replication Award will back teams that are aiming to replicate and adapt an innovative operating model for your parks area. We are particularly interested in hearing from those testing Foundations or incorporating a focus on parks into a Business Improvement District (BID) - further inspiration for models that have show promise can be found  through the 2014 Rethinking Parks programme. We may also consider applications that adapt a proven model from another sector or place, providing that model has been shown to work in practice. Adaptation to the local area may mean setting up new organisational structures and partnerships for the long-term care of parks, trialling frameworks for new and more diverse sources of funding and resources and new uses and activities within parks.

What are the eligibility requirements and criteria for the Replication award?

Please click here for further information.

What is the focus for the Prototyping award?

The Prototyping fund is aimed at testing and learning about how digital innovations and data techniques might play a role in addressing the challenges that parks face. We are looking for ideas that use technology and data in ways that will ultimately support parks to develop more sustainable operating models and will favour ideas that can demonstrate a clear link to this wider aim.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the areas below;

  • Better understanding of who uses parks and how;
  • Connecting existing and potential parks users in the local community;
  • Efficient or different forms of land management;
  • New approaches to engagement/encouraging parks use;
  • Putting the social value of parks into context through combining local open data sets eg. around public health

What are the eligibility requirements and criteria for the Prototyping award?

Please click here for further information.

What level of grant funding could we receive?

We anticipate that Replication awards will range from £150,000 - £200,000. This will include some evaluation activity and participation in learning network events; we expect many proposals will include partners who have expertise in the operating model being proposed. Funds will be offered alongside advisory support provided by Nesta and other practitioners. In total £1.5m funding is available.

Prototyping awards will be between £70-100,000 focusing on earlier stage digital innovations. This will include some evaluation activity and participation in learning events, and will be offered alongside coaching and or expert advisory support provided by Nesta and other practitioners. We expect many proposals will include partners who have expertise in the prototyping and digital or data activities being proposed. In total £500,000 is available.

What is the deadline for submitting an expression of interest in the awards?

Applications will be accepted for the Replication awards up until the closing date of Tuesday 27 February. For both award streams, all organisations will then go through a second round of selection activities, supported by Nesta to refine and develop their proposal. We expect financial awards to be made and work to begin in areas in June 2018.

Applications will be accepted for the Prototyping awards up until the closing date of Wednesday 28 March at 18:00 (BST). For both award streams, all organisations will then go through a second round of selection activities, supported by Nesta to refine and develop their proposal. We expect financial awards to be made and work to begin in areas in June 2018.

Do we have to work in partnership with others to take part in the programme?

We strongly welcome and recommend partnership working to draw on others’ networks, skills and support as appropriate; but would not exclude applications from individual organisations. Think about what makes most sense for your idea and what form of partnership would bring value to your project.  

You will need to confirm that all named partners have reviewed the application and one should be nominated as the lead partner.

What scale of idea are you looking for?

We would generally expect replication awards to be made to projects working at a city, county or regional scales, and across a parks service rather than an individual park, except in exceptional cases. If you are in doubt please contact us.

We would expect prototyping awards to be focused on testing viability of an idea and so are open to your judgement on what is appropriate scale of operation for what you are proposing to do.

Would you fund allotments?

This fund is aimed at existing public parks. If your parks service includes allotment sites and you are considering both within your business model, you would be eligible to apply. Our aim, however, is to create innovative new financial models for public parks.

Would you fund capital costs?

While we are able to include some limited capital costs within grants, where these are directly necessary to implement the new operating model, we don't expect to fund projects that are primarily about capital improvements or physical changes to parks. This should be considered in the context that we are expecting the application process to be highly competitive.

Would you fund hardware?

We do not expect to fund projects that are primarily about purchasing or enabling the implementation and use of commercial hardware in parks. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the areas below;

  • Better understanding of who uses parks and how;
  • Connecting existing and potential parks users in the local community;
  • Efficient or different forms of parks and land management;
  • New approaches to engagement/encouraging parks use;
  • Putting the social value of parks into context through combining local open data sets eg. around public health

This should be considered in the context that we are expecting the application process to be highly competitive.

Can I apply with a hybrid proposal between the Replication and Prototyping awards?

No. You could make two related applications for the different awards, but each would be judged according to the priorities and selection criteria for the type of award and treated independently.

What is your definition of a park? Apart from parks run by local authorities, what other parks could apply?

We define a public park as an existing designed urban or rural park, the main focus of which is providing free access to informal recreation and enjoyment. This includes urban parks, country parks, gardens, squares and seaside promenades. This could, for example, include parks managed by national parks authorities, charitable trusts or public bodies.

We have previously been awarded funding by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund or Nesta. Can we apply to this programme?

Yes, you can apply. Each application will be assessed according to the criteria for that type of award. This includes organisations who were part of the first Rethinking Parks programme.

Can we apply with two different projects to the same type of award? Can we apply for both types of award?

Yes. Each application will be assessed separately in line with the selection criteria.

Will you fund the purchase of environmental equipment and hardware?

While expenditure on equipment and hardware can be included, we would expect this to be for necessary expenditure as part of a wider strategy for financial sustainability, rather than being the focus of your project. We do not intend to provide significant amounts of capital funding as part of the programme.

Can we apply with a proposal that involves setting up a crowdfunding platform?

Yes. As with any proposal, we would expect you to demonstrate that your project will learn from and build upon previous work, including that funded under the first Rethinking Parks programme.

Can funding pay for overheads, salary costs and travel expenses?

Yes. The funding can be used to pay for most project specific costs, including salary costs for new roles or to backfill an existing role to enable someone to temporarily work on the project. We will support shortlisted projects to develop their project budget in more detail.

Can multiple organisations apply with a proposal to use the same app or other technology?

Yes. You could also apply as one partnership proposal. Please keep in mind that the programme is likely to be heavily subscribed and funding will be awarded on a competitive basis in line with the selection criteria.

Would you consider funding the creation of a new park?

No. The aim of the programme is to find ways of making existing public parks financially sustainable. We recommend looking at other sources of funding for new green spaces, for example through Section 106 agreements or the Community Infrastructure Levy.

For the Replication award, can our proposal adapt an idea from the first Rethinking Parks programme without replicating it exactly? Can we combine more than one idea?

Yes. We are looking for all proposals to learn from at least one innovative operating model for parks that has been tested, and then to demonstrate why it is suitable for replication and adaptation.

For the Replication award, can our application focus on one park or several parks in the same area?

We are particularly interested in proposals operating at a larger scale, covering parks across a town, city, county or region. However, we would accept applications referring to smaller scale projects. 

What should I do if I have a proposal but don't have the correct partnerships/expertise in place to implement it?

The first thing to remember is that this is a two-stage application process and there will be a chance to develop your idea and partnership further at the second stage. If you have not already done so, we’d advise you to get in contact with our team at [email protected]. We would then discuss your idea further and, if suitable, will invite you to share contact details and connect with others who have also expressed an interest in partnership opportunities.

What happens if i am successful at the first stage?

Initial application deadlines are Tuesday 27 February for the Replication Awards and by Wednesday 28 March at 18:00 (BST) for the Prototyping Awards. After this a number of projects will be selected to develop their ideas and will move their proposal forward through the idea development stage of the programme.

For both award streams, all organisations will go through a second round of development supported by Nesta to refine and develop their proposal including an event.  

For the Replication Awards, projects that are shortlisted after the first stage will be asked to attend an idea development workshop on Monday 9 April.

Please bear in mind that due to the competitive nature of the programme, being shortlisted for the second development round of the programme does not entitle your project to get funding. We expect financial awards to be made and work to begin in areas in June 2018.