Parks for People

Grants for projects that regenerate historic public parks and cemeteries

Total available
£60 million
Application deadline


What's it all about?

Parks for People was a joint initiative between The National Lottery Community Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme launched in 2006 and aimed to regenerate public parks and cemeteries of national, regional, or local heritage value for the enjoyment and recreation of local people. It supported a total of 135 projects through £254million of funding across the UK, with The National Lottery Community Fund contributing towards projects in England only. The programme awarded grants of between £100,000 and £5 million to revitalise historic parks and cemeteries.

The Parks for People programme is the successor programme to two other funding schemes, the Urban Parks Programme and the Public Parks Initiative. Since 1996, over £900m of National Lottery funding has been awarded to more than 900 UK public parks for capital works and public engagement activities.

Watch this film to see the difference the Parks for People programme is having upon the people who live and work in the local community surrounding a beautifully restored Grade II registered Victorian park:

The impact so far

The most recent evaluation of the programme was undertaken by Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, along with colleagues at the University of Sheffield and Urban Pollinators Ltd.

The final report, which was published in June 2021, Why should we invest in parks? Evidence from the Parks for People Programme, provides clear evidence for the value of investing parks. It highlights the multiple social benefits that can be achieved by investing in public parks and in the people who bring those parks to life. It can be used to support decision-making about parks investment and to support development of new practices and policy for parks management.

The evaluation built on evidence from the rapid evidence review Space to Thrive, which was published by The Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund in January 2020.

Following this research, the evaluators examined six Parks for People projects, creating individual case studies for each one:

The six parks were selected to encompass a range of locations, types of community, and periods of investment. Park users in Saughton Park, Stafford Orchard, and Grosvenor and Hilbert Park were also interviewed about their experiences of using the parks during the first coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in Spring 2020.

In a time of uncertainty and increased anxiety, these parks offered many people with the escapism they needed to support their mental health and wellbeing. They also provided a local space for exercise and a way of connecting with nature during a time where travel was restricted.

One park user said: “We go out for a walk every afternoon after [we’ve] sort of done our school stuff and we went every day to that park. It was like a godsend … I was just so grateful that we had it. I was so, so grateful.”

A think piece highlighting what we have learned about parks during a pandemic was also produced as part of this evaluation.

All of these outputs can also be found on Parks for People: Why should we invest in parks webpage on The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s website.

Previous evaluations

A report published in 2013 which looks at the impact of the funding can be found below. Reported benefits include a rise in the number of volunteers, a rise in visitor numbers, improvements in natural habitats and an increase in extra investment, among other achievements.

Read the impact report summary or the full impact report