The private sector has the potential to play a massive role in supporting the creation and maintenance of parks and green spaces for community benefit. Public open spaces planned for new developments can be considered for community asset transfer from the outset as an alternative to local authority adoption, or ownership by a private management company.
New developments can also bring opportunities for investment in public open space beyond the development itself. ‘Section 106’ agreements offer contributions from the developer negotiated by the planning authority. These have provided a source of funding for many public space improvements and in some cases for ongoing maintenance of sites. The community infrastructure levy, (which will largely replace section 106 agreements in time), may provide a potential source of funding for public open spaces, providing that local authorities include public spaces in their list of types of projects that can benefit from the levy.
Community organisations looking to take over responsibility for public spaces will need to discuss how to access planning contributions with their local authority planning officers. Business Improvement Districts are an important mechanism for involving local businesses in local activities that improve the local trading environment. Improvements may include, but are not limited to, environmental measures.
Community organisation members should approach their extended network of contacts in local companies to ask for in-cash and non-monetary contributions. Prizes for raffles and auctions or donated tools for maintenance teams can make a big difference. And in return most businesses would benefit from good publicity.