London Borough of Camden: We Rethought Parks - Bloomsbury² Squared Project Guide

www.nesta.org.uk/project/rethinking-parks/we-rethought-parks-bloomsbury2-squared-project-guide/
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The award

London Borough of Camden has been awarded £96,000 through the Rethinking Parks programme to develop and test whether voluntary or compulsory contributions from businesses, residents and institutions can sustain parks in the Bloomsbury area.

Rethinking Parks is a jointly funded programme between the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund (England) and Nesta.

This project guide provides information on what the Bloomsbury Squared team tested throughout the project and offers advice to others interested in exploring a similar model.

The idea

The Bloomsbury Squares are an iconic collection of green spaces that are of significant cultural, historic, economic and amenity value to the thousands of people that use them daily. Building upon the concept of the Business Improvement District, the London Borough of Camden will test the feasibility of both voluntary and compulsory financial contributions from businesses and institutions to maintain and improve the quality of these spaces, alongside other potential approaches to income generation/cost reductions.

The team’s approach involves understanding each Square’s unique users, benefits and needs. It will then identify what opportunities and financial contribution models will work best for each space. Work will commence in one pilot Square to test co-creating activities and actions with the stakeholders. Levies and other financial and in kind contribution models have been proven to work well, with Bryant Park in Manhattan being a popular example of how business contributions to a city park cannot not only improve the amenity of the area, but also increase property values.

The desired impact

The team is hoping that this project will:

  • enable alternative more sustainable funding sources for parks maintenance and development to be put in place, making them less vulnerable to current pressures on local authority budgets
  • raise local businesses, institutions and residents awareness and recognition of the value of these historic parks
  • encourage further community cohesion through the local community’s greater involvement with the Bloomsbury Squares

The team

The project is being led by the London Borough of Camden Parks and Sustainability team, with support from a range of local community organisations. A Project Advisory Group has come together to help advise the team, comprising representatives of the Bloomsbury Squares Association, the various Friends groups for the Squares, local institutions and business groups. The team have also now appointed a temporary Bloomsbury Programme Manager to ensure that ideas generated can be taken forward.

“Being involved in the Rethinking Parks programme is an opportunity to help diversify the sources of funding available for our green spaces ensuring that they can be maintained to the high quality which everyone expects and appreciates. The Bloomsbury Squares are such a famous and important element of the urban fabric in this area of London; this programme is a chance to encourage the local businesses and residents to become more involved in their management and really make a difference in retaining them as cultural and historic squares of national importance.”

Contact

Shirley Blake (Bloomsbury Programme Manager): [email protected] 020 7974 5030