Our Green Space, a Cumbria-wide project was developed and managed in partnership by Friends of the Lake District (FLD) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT).
It was funded by the Heritage Lottery ‘Your Heritage’ grant scheme and Friends of the Lake District and run with the support of many other individuals and organisations. The project employed two part time Project Officers and initially ran from January 2008 to December 2010 but was subsequently extended to December 2011.
About Our Green Space
Our Green Space stemmed from discussions in 1997 with the then Cumbria Countryside Forum resulting in a research report in 2000, 'Village Greens in Eden'. The report detailed the problems and issues local communities were facing and the degradation and loss of historic green spaces across the district. Friends of the Lake District (FLD), Voluntary Action Cumbria (now ACTion with Communities in Cumbria) and Cumbria County Council (CCC) decided to investigate this further looking at village greens across the whole county and producing the 'Significance and Threats' research report in 2004. The report explained the many and varied benefits that the open, green spaces of Cumbria provide and set out the case for them being one of the county's most important and precious historic assets. However, considerable evidence was also found to show how these unique spaces and their inherent landscape and cultural character were under significant threat.
As a result the three project partners, FLD, VAC and CCC developed a 5 year project plan entitled Open Spaces, Green Places that secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) who requested that the project to be split into a Project Planning Year and a 3-year project.
- Project Need
The open, green spaces of Cumbria are one of the county’s most important and precious assets. The research undertaken found that the benefits they provide are many and varied including:
- culture and heritage - links to our past history which can be brought to life through local festivals and civic celebrations;
- aesthetics and a sense of place – defining the visual appearance and attractiveness to a community;
- health and quality of life – promoting healthy living by providing access to the countryside for walking, playing games and a place for quiet contemplation;
- social cohesion and community activity - encouraging and enabling community involvement by providing opportunities for people to fully participate in the management and protection of their local environment.
- environmental assets – reservoirs of rich biodiversity and landscape beauty and provide important links within the wider network of green/wildlife corridors and buffer zones;
The threats to Cumbria’s Open, Green Spaces were also identified including:
- serious deterioration in their condition
- neglect or mismanagement
- physical encroachment
- inappropriate development
- misuse or conflict of use
- lack of knowledge, advice and available information
- access problems
- anti-social behaviour a low political priority
- decreasing resources.
- Project principle and aims
The key principle of the three year project 'Our Green Space'(OGS) was to equip and empower people-in-communities to help themselves to achieve their aims for their open green space so providing sustainable, partnership based solutions, visions and actions.
- To support and enable individuals and organisations to create, manage, protect, enhance and promote open green space as part of the natural heritage of Cumbria
- To increase understanding and enjoyment of open green spaces and the role they play in shaping Cumbrian communities in developing sense of place and quality of life
- To encourage the community, public and private sectors to work in partnership and develop effective measures for the protection of open green spaces of Cumbria
- To engage with, strengthen and build capacity within communities through positive local action on heritage and cultural activities
- Project Management
Our Green Space was run in partnership between Friends of the Lake District (FLD) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) with support from many other organisations across the county. FLD, the lead organisation, employed 2 part time Project Officers, one based at their office in Kendal and the other based at the ACT office in Penrith. The Project Officers were responsible for all day to day management and organisation of the project including facilitating the role-out of community schemes and provision of on-going support to the communities, organisation and delivery of central outputs and managing the budget and reporting to HLF on a quarterly basis.
Strategic management of the whole project was undertaken by a Steering Group made up of representatives of the following organisations:
- Friends of the Lake District
- Action with Communities in Cumbria
- Cumbria Association of Local Councils (Chair)
- Cumbria Wildlife Trust
- Lake District National Park Association
- The National Trust
- Cumbria Council for Voluntary Services
- Cumbria County Council
- Project Outputs
The main outputs of the 4 year Our Green Space project were:
- Five Community schemes delivered
- Publication of the learning from the schemes
- Raised awareness of open green space issues
- Skilled up communities and key stakeholders
- A knowledge and expertise centre (for green spaces - web based)
- Strong partnerships
- Input to strategy development