Decision details

Grant Award to Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation for community engagement projects at park sites

Decision Maker: Director Environment

Decision status: Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


In 2018, Bath and North East Somerset Council worked in partnership with Bristol City Council to set up the Bristol and Bath parks Foundation (BBPF) an independent charity to improve parks.
Parks Foundations are common in the USA and Bournemouth’s Parks teams set up the first in the UK in 2015. Parks foundations raise money for repairs and capital improvements in parks and work with businesses and engage communities and volunteers to help complement the work of municipal parks’ departments.
BBPF has developed a sustainability strategy which outlines a plan to be fully financially sustainable by 2024 through a mixture of grants, sponsorship, fundraising and social enterprise; and
their plan is based on the experience of Bournemouth’s independent parks’ charity (The Bournemouth Parks Foundation).
In 2020, the BBPF generated £80,551 in income and grants and has outlined a plan for the next three years to become entirely self funded by increasing the amount of income that it generates through grants, donations, sponsorship and social enterprise. However, it will need support to meet its core costs for the first three years and is requesting a tapered contribution from Bristol City Council and B&NES: a total of 48k from Bath and North East Somerset Council over the three years to 2024.
Instead of providing this amount as a grant, we wish to fund the BBPF to deliver a programme of community engagement projects over the next three years. The Parks Team is already planning to deliver s106 funded capital projects at five parks from 2021-24 and believe that BBPF is better placed to run the community engagement elements of the projects than the Council.
BBPF is better placed to engage volunteers, set up friends’ groups, work with businesses and sponsors and independently fundraise to multiply the benefits of each project. Community engagement is critical to the success of capital projects in parks, and by independently fundraising, the BBPF can increase the value of the Council’s capital investment by a factor of 10:1- as proven by the success of the Council in securing £3.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Sydney Gardens project.
As an example, the Council recently developed a project plan for investment in Brickfields Park in Bath. Under the arrangement proposed above, the Council would deliver the capital improvements included in the scheme (new gates, signs and surfacing) and the BBPF would be tasked with developing a Friends group, running community volunteering initiatives and fundraising for new facilities around the basketball area to improve facilities for young people.
Other, alternative, organisations are capable of delivering community engagement projects for the Council and the Council is able to work with corporates and fundraise for capital projects, but BBPF is the only organisation able to do all three.
For this reason we are seeking to directly award this grant to the BBPF. Under this arrangement, funds would be awarded through a series of project grant agreements – each of which would need to be successful delivered before the next tranche of funding released.
A financially sustainable Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation is critical to B&NES’ commitment to improving people’s lives and addressing the climate and nature emergencies in B&NES’ parks and open spaces. Supporting it to be sustainable will lead to a long term programme of external investment in our parks and open spaces and engage more communities in helping to manage and improve them.


To award a grant of £48,000 to the Bristol and Bath parks Foundation to deliver community engagement projects at five parks sites from 2021-2024. Grants will be awarded through a series of project agreements in two tranches: £24,000 in March 2021 and a further £24,000 (subject to satisfactory performance) in 2022.

Alternative options considered:

Option 1 - Not award a grant to BBPF: There is a real risk that without investment at this stage, the charity would cease to function. Having already invested considerable time and resources into developing the charity, its failure would represent a significant waste of time and resources on the Council's behalf and the permanent loss of an opportunity to develop the potential for extra funding and community engagement that its existence represents.
Option 2 - Not deliver community engagement projects as part of the park's capital projects, or deliver the work in house: Community engagement is critical to the success of capital projects in parks and to delivering the Council's commitment to Giving People a Bigger Say. A community engagement approach ensures that investment is efficiently targeted to where it’s needed and ensures the community buy-in needed to make projects sustainable and reduce costs in the long term (e.g. a new friends group in a park will help with grounds maintenance work for which there currently is not enough resource - like litter picking). A third party is needed to help with this work as there is very limited capacity for Council staff to deliver effective community engagement work.

Publication date: 01/03/2021

Date of decision: 01/03/2021

Accompanying Documents: