Parks in Hackney are to benefit from a £100,000 boost to create opportunities for business investment and new jobs.
A new project called Park Hack will receive the amount plus a package of support to invest in the borough’s park for the next 18 months. It was chosen along with ten others around the country to be supported by the Rethinking Parks programme, a partnership between Nesta, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery fund.
According to Lydia Ragoonanan, Rethinking Parks programme manager, the idea is to back pioneering innovations, “with a focus on finding new business models that will enable our parks to thrive for the next century.” The project will distribute a total of £1,000,000 to the 11 winning projects.
Ragoonanan added: “Not only could this lead to greater financial security for parks, it could also create new opportunities for employment and education, increased health and wellbeing, and greater biodiversity.”
Park Hack is led by Groundwork London, a charity organisation which promotes economic and social regeneration by improving the local environment. The project also involves the design company Gensler and Hackney Borough Council. Ben Coles, the director of communities and local partnerships of Groundwork London, explained that Park Hack is a cross sector programme with the objective of creating a sustainable mechanism for business investment in local parks. The idea is based on the Business Improvement District model, which requires businesses to pay an additional tax for a defined area so this money can fund other projects in the district.
According to Coles, The Park Improvement District (PID) will be pioneered in Shoreditch, and will include forgotten as well as high profile parks. “It will enable businesses to invest in and use parks whilst maintaining them as public assets,” explained the director.
The format engages businesses in long-term relationships. So, instead of using the open space for one event only, companies and organisations will be involved with the parks to create a sustainable chain through activities such as corporate events, product launches, food and markets, work and meeting spaces.
“The PID will improve working relationships and access issues for private sector and community organisations and provide increased influence: a quid pro quo for investment,” said Coles.