Management plans are important to create an action plan so that groups can be involved in advocating park needs (increased biodiversity etc.) There are many reasons that parks need management plans; to obtain Green flag standard, to bid for substantial Lottery funding.
Conservation action plans are important to meet key biodiversity targets but differ from management plans. Some boroughs have management plans for all parks, others are more selective.
Example of where it’s working – Lordship Park won 4 million pounds lottery funding as a result of their management plan. The co-wrote the management plan with Haringey Council, this meant that the plan was not a tick-box activity. It was noted that all of Haringey’s plans are viewable and if anything needed to be changed it can be added as an appendix, such as the section pertaining to Lordship park’s wildflower meadow. Lordship Park’s plan is a 10 year plan, and the Friend’s co-manage the park with Haringey council.
It was noted that some management plans are written in house whereas others as written by contracted individuals.
One example is Tooting Common has a management plan and heritage funding – it sets out exactly where it is and the things being done.
It was noted that conservation of the historic meaning of the park needs to be considered.
Bromley – Bromley council would like to make all green spaces in bromley Green Flag and to make management plans for the parks and open spaces. They are unsure whether or not community groups need to be involved in the writing of the management plan.
Kensington Friends – Hyde Park’s management plan was written in 2006 and is out of date. The group is consulting with their council on the management plan. They noted that the contractors agreement isn’t necessarily important/doesn’t impact on the management plan.
Boroughs aren’t required to have management plans for any of their parks/green spaces. It is important to have a good relationship with the council.
Friends of Queen Mary’s Park – The woodland nearby the park has been left alone but it received 300,000 in lottery funding which meant that open areas have been created in the wood to increase biodiversity and trees have been felled. The users have noted that the ‘magic’ has gone from that area and that the natural bio-diversity that existed had been dampened – moral of the story is that care should be taken so that the management plan does not lead to a manicured park/green space.
It was noted that management plans could protect those spaces, such as the woodland, which are valued by friends groups. Ensuring that the uniqueness of a place is protected and that work done is coherent with the park. However, there is a balance as parks have a wide range of users and user needs (such as dog walkers).
It was suggested that Friends group have a mission statement to ensure that any differing opinions within friends groups (such as the use of an area) can be resolved.
Some Friends thought that management plans were hugely wordy with very little content and would like to see shorter, clear management plans.
Haringey council has a standard management plan which is general and can be applied to all of their parks and green spaces. The important part of a management plan is the tailored to include features of that green space/community involvement and use.
Lewisham noted that if you have a good relationship with the council then they can adapt the management plan to suit the green space.
A lot of green space maintenance contracts are borough-wide (such as tree officers). Having a management plan means that you can empower elective representatives and advocate for services that are needed in your green space. As the service requirements laid out in the management plan need to be fulfilled.
If you are making a bid for funding, having a management plan which states the aims of the park (such as improving facilities) bolsters your request.
Ideally most green spaces would have a management plan. The Green Flag status is a major imputus for this change. There should be a plan for all boroughs’ green spaces. There is a guide which can be found on the national archive, if you search’ park management plan’. The first step is to plan the plan – figure out where you are, where you want to go and what to do when you arrive. Plans should be the result of analysis and regularly reviews. Contracts are usually borough-wide and ideally should define the outcomes, these flexible contracts are better so when contracts are up for renewal friend’s groups should get involved with the council and make recommendations.
It was also noted that friends groups could write their own management plans.
The question was raised as to whether or not a management plan is held by the council or stakeholder groups. Park management plans have no legal grounds, they are a road map of where you are coming from and where you are going to. As council funding is being cut it is useful to have a management plan as they are a resource which can be passed on if there is a change in staff.
Management plans can bring about consensus and reconciliation and can help to align community, council and contractors. Friends groups can use management plans to help these stakeholders work together for the good of the park. However, it takes time to build these relationships.
There is no reason why a service agreement can’t build upon the management plan, timing this with a contract renewal can be useful. Friends groups can assess the quality of work done by the contractors. Friends groups could participate in partnership meetings (with contractors and council) and stakeholders meeting (to discuss things like biodiversity).
Research for Structure of Guide:
What – What is a management plan and how does it differ from an Action Plan:
https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110118142340/http://www.cabe.org.uk/files/parks-and-green-space-management-plans.pdf – This offers a guide on how to create a park management plan.