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Run-down UK parks and cemeteries in National Lottery windfall

  • £34million will help transform 16 historic green spaces across the UK
  • Cardiff’s Bute Park becomes ‘jewel’ in crown’ of the city

Yesterday, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund invested £34m in some of the UK’s most precious, yet tired green spaces. These include:

  • Great Yarmouth’s vibrant Venetian-inspired water gardens constructed as part of an unemployment relief programme after the First World War
  • Belfast City Cemetery - ‘the final resting place of some of Belfast’s industrial giants, including an underground wall originally built to divide Protestants and Catholics and a ‘poor ground’ where 63,000 people are buried in unmarked graves.’
  • Winckley Square Gardens, Preston - one of Northern England’s finest Georgian squares - with notable residents including suffragette Edith Rigby and seven-times Mayor Nicholas Grimshaw
  • Stoke-on-Trent’s Hanley Park – one of the biggest Victorian public parks in the UK, built for local potters and miners to relax and play sports.

This money will transform these sites, some of which are situated in the country’s most deprived communities. Disused historic buildings will be restored and used as new cafes or public facilities, helping to attract more people and therefore more income. Innovations include public wi-fi installed in Peel Park, Salford and plans to harness renewable energy from the mill pond at Victoria Park, Stafford.

Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch said: "This investment will breathe new life into each of these 16 historic parks and cemeteries, making them great places for people to enjoy. Britain's famous green spaces are so important for giving people a place to get together, relax and exercise, and have a vital role in strengthening our local communities."

HLF’s Chair Sir Peter Luff, said, on behalf of HLF and the Big Lottery Fund: “We all benefit from spending time outside in the fresh air, so it’s vital that we look after our green spaces, particularly in dense urban areas. National Lottery players’ money will give a boost to each of these 16 historic places, helping make sure they have a great future.”

Bute Park Opens - a Beaut!
This month sees the opening of Cardiff’s Bute Park following a transformational project. £3.1m of HLF funding has helped create a new summerhouse café, restored the park’s treasured ‘animal wall’ and delivered a new education centre built from reclaimed bricks. 

Annual visitor numbers have increased 100% to over 2 million since the project began and the park now sits firmly within Cardiff’s Top 5 attractions on Trip Advisor.

Mike Harper, Chair of the Bute Park Friends Group, said “There’s now so much to do in the park and it’s such a relaxing and beautiful place to be. The whole City is delighted and grateful it has been so well looked after. It really is the green heart of our city!”

£1m for Great Yarmouth Venetian Waterways
These Venetian-style water gardens on the seafront of the popular seaside resort of Great Yarmouth opened in 1928. Constructed as part of an unemployment relief programme after the First World War, the waterways were known for their whimsical design and lavish planting schemes. With winding rivers for gondolas, rock gardens, picturesque bridges, thatched shelters and winter ice skating, this park was nationally famous. The waterways have deteriorated and have lost much of their special character since the 1980’s. A grant of £1m will restore the original planting and repair the thatched shelters, bridges and the boating lake walls. A new café will be opened and people will be able to train in gardening and traditional building skills.

A New Life for Belfast City Cemetery
The various monuments and headstones in this Victorian garden cemetery in West Belfast tell the story of finance, empire, the rise of Northern Unionism and the golden era of industry in the city. Tombs include Edward Harland of Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilding company responsible for the Titanic and Thomas Gallaher of Gallahers Tobacco - two figures who dominated 19th century industrial Belfast. Other notable features include Northern Ireland’s only Jewish burial ground, a ‘poor ground’ where 63,000 people are buried, and an underground wall built to divide Protestants and Catholics. A grant of £1.8m will restore the cemetery’s listed features, create a new visitor centre and provide information boards, maps and publications to tell the stories of this important site.

Statuesque: Winckley Square Gardens, Preston
One of the finest examples of a Georgian square in the North of England, Winckley Square was the most exclusive address in Preston during the 19th century. Residents included suffragette Edith Rigby and seven-times Mayor Nicholas Grimshaw. The gardens were originally divided into private lots for the square’s houses but were opened for public use in the 20th century. A grant of £950k will address many years of decline with plans to prevent flooding and new trees and shrubs. A statue of Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, will be restored and the square will be used for all sorts of activities including guided tours and a gardening club.

To date, National Lottery money to the tune of £770million has been invested in parks since 1996 and many of these major parks projects are now central to their local community’s sense of well-being.

Notes to editors

  • This announcement can be followed on Twitter #parksmatter
  • State of the UK Parks - to different website  
    This investment comes at a challenging time for UK’s public parks due to local authority budget cuts. HLF’s report State of the UK Public Parks 2014 warned that unless innovative ways of funding parks can be found, they are at serious risk of decline or loss.   
  • The research shows that maintenance budgets are being reduced, capital will be less available for improvements, facilities are becoming more costly to use and some parks may simply be sold or transferred to the care of others. Park usage is increasing and communities are also taking on a greater role. The study ends with a call to action and five key challenges for the future. HLF will commission and publish a second State of the UK Public Parks report in 2016 to monitor changes in the condition, quality and resourcing of the UK’s public parks.
  • The 16 parks and cemeteries that received funding yesterday were:

    HLF/Big Lottery Fund joint grants in England

    Earmarked funding 

    West Smethwick Park, Sandwell     £4,830,700
    Victoria Park, Stafford      £1,705,100
    Hunstanton Heritage Gardens, West Norfolk   £   685,400
    Great Yarmouth Venetian Waterways    £1,020,800
    Springfield Park, Hackney     £3,194,100
    Thompson Park, Burnley     £   860,100
    London Road Cemetery, Coventry    £1,998,000

    Confirmed grants
    Chase Park, Gateshead      £   922,900
    Peel Park, Salford      £1,572,800
    Winckley Square Gardens, Preston    £   942,600
    Northwood Cemetery, Isle of Wight    £1,685,100
    Hanley Park, Stoke on Trent     £4,579,300

    HLF only funded grants 
    Belfast Cemetery (earmarked funding)    £1,852,800
    Stornoway Castle Grounds     £3,903,600
    Dean Castle Country Park, East Ayrshire   £3,338,900
    Wrexham Cemetery      £1,190,000

    Parks for People applications are assessed in two rounds.  A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
  • The Parks for People programme uses Lottery funds to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries. In England the two Lottery Funds have been working in partnership from 2006 to deliver a multi-million pound investment in public parks.  Find out more about how to apply at to different website
  • Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare to different website @heritagelottery 
  • Big Lottery Fund
    The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. We are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.
  • Further information and images
    Tom Williams, HLF press office, on tel: (020) 7591 6056 Mobile: 07973 613820  Nicola Baxter, Big Lottery Fund press office, on tel: (020) 7211 1888


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