The Big Lottery Fund, The Heritage Lottery Fund, and Nesta are once again working in partnership to launch a £2 million fund to support parks innovators across the UK

The challenge

Like many other public services, our public parks are under increasing pressure, with limited resources available to adapt to changing circumstances. Innovative approaches are required, but UK parks have little budget or time to invest in trialling new ways of working that could help alleviate this pressure.

That is why our partnership has launched a call for proposals to Rethinking Parks; a two-stream innovation fund that will help support parks innovators.

The programme

We know from previous work on parks innovation, that innovative operating models and partnerships, digital management tools and community engagement can all play a role in creating a more sustainable future for our parks. That is why we have chosen to focus on two areas; to support parks innovators to replicate and adapt proven models for operating parks, and to test new ways of using digital technology to contribute to sustainability of parks.

  1. Replication award: Grants of up to £200k over 2 years aimed at supporting organisations to set up, run and learn from innovative, tested, operating models for parks

  2. Prototyping award: Grants of up to £100k over 9-15 months to support testing and learning from digital innovations with the potential to address challenges that parks face


Across 2014 and 2015,  The Big Lottery FundThe Heritage Lottery Fund, and Nesta supported a small number of pioneering innovations that focused on testing new business models that would enable our parks to thrive for the next century.

We worked with 11 teams across the UK, providing grant funds, specialist support, networking opportunities, and times for reflection and challenge, to test which approaches had the most promise to help fund and sustain the UK’s public parks. Teams showed creative ways of working that offered real potential to scale and replicate into other contexts, such as Parks Foundations.