The future prospects of urban parks: The life, times and social order of Victorian public parks as places of social mixing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Law

Abstract

This project brings together insights from history, criminology and urban studies to explore the future prospects of city parks as public meeting places, in both the Victorian period and the present day. The aim of the project is to generate a novel understanding of the future social significance and role of public parks and how social groups (might) live together and commingle safely in cosmopolitan cities. It makes connections between the past, the present and the future importance of these public spaces by exploring how they have evolved over time from their origins as spaces of social mixing between diverse groups in Victorian cities. It investigates official and public expectations of what parks might become in terms of their social possibilities and their desired effects aligned with visions of the future, both in the Victorian and contemporary eras. In these ways, the project connects with and advances the AHRC 'Care for the Future' research theme and its central ambition of 'thinking forward through the past'.

The project combines historical analysis with a new contemporary study to explore the experiences and views of people that used and use Victorian parks in terms of their governance, regulation and policing. It therefore engages with the challenges of managing social mixing in public space, including the possibilities for conflict around behaviour, social disorder, and anxieties of otherness in the multi-cultural city. It also explores the outcomes commingling may facilitate in terms of promoting social cohesion and its potential civilising effects.

The project will consider how the public park's original design and rationale remains relevant to the needs of the contemporary city and how it has adapted to changing social conditions. This research will allow us to 'care for the future' of the urban public park, not just by understanding its past and its present, but by translating that understanding into concrete policy proposals for its future governance. The project will provide a reinterpretation and reinvigoration of the vision, governance and sustainability of urban parks in cities of the future. In the context of austerity and local authority spending cuts to non-compulsory public services, including city parks, this is an opportune time to rethink the vision and governance of these public spaces.

The research is based on three Victorian public parks in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Together, these case studies combine a diversity of park types in terms of their social ideals and purposes, the size and social profile of users and stakeholders, and the diversity of experiences of park life from places of grand show and ceremony to informal community parks.

The project contributes new and unique inter-disciplinary insights connecting the arts and humanities with the social sciences. The project findings will feed into public policy debates about the future of cities and engage academic audiences working across disciplines, particularly in social and urban history, law, criminology, sociology, urban policy and cultural studies. The project will engage public audiences through a public exhibition, a free-to-access digital collection of photographs of Victorian parks in Leeds, and via blogs, twitter feeds, and media briefings.

Planned Impact

The principal beneficiaries of the research will be a wide range of organisations that have a role to play in promoting open, tolerant and inclusive public spaces. The research findings will have direct implications for public policies that engage with the role and place of urban parks and public spaces in cities of the future. Through collaboration with Leeds City Council (the Project Partners) the research will engage end users from the outset, feed into the Core Cities Group and inform the Leeds Foresight Future of Cities project which the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council are collaborating with government to establish. Alongside a public policy seminar, these mechanisms will facilitate broader lesson-learning for UK cities. The cross section of park types allows policy considerations to be drawn elsewhere.

Moreover, the effective governance of the public realm remains a national and international concern. The research findings should inform and influence wider debates on public space governance, regulation and policing and how diverse social groups (might) live together and mix socially in cities. The research will identify the conditions under which public parks facilitate and enhance social cohesion and support feelings of safety and security. Consequently, it will inform the work of organisations that promote improvements to public space design and management such as the Commission for the Built Environment (now part of the Design Council). The project will assess how governance and management strategies were (and are) received by park users in the past and the present, and thus provide insights on the basis of which good practice can best be constructed. These insights will inform new thinking about future governance strategies that balance safety and security with openness and tolerance. Hence the findings will be of interest to the Home Office, Government Departments accountable for communities and the environment and local authorities across the country with responsibility for parks. Moreover, the research will generate insights of relevance to a wide variety of organisations which include urban parks within their remit, including the Parks Alliance, comprising a cross-sector group of senior executives, set up in the absence of a national parks body to campaign to 'put public parks at the heart of the drive for healthy, resilient and sustainable communities', English Heritage, the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, Groundwork, Policy Exchange, and Natural England. A brief and accessible summary of the findings will be widely distributed and contain implications for policy and practice.

In Leeds, the findings will contribute to the public's knowledge about a key aspect of their social and cultural heritage via a public exhibition and digital photographic collection. Hence it will help address the problem identified by a recent English Heritage survey which found a lack of public knowledge about 'park history in general and even fewer considered themselves well informed about the history of their own local park' (Layton-Jones 2014 p.13). The local insights will benefit directly the key agencies tasked with implementing the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy for Leeds (in particular the local authority and the police) and the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum. They will also support wider initiatives by the Council such as the Leeds bid for the European Capital of Culture 2023. The wider public, beyond Leeds, will benefit through the project's potential for policy changes that improve well-being and quality of life and by improved awareness via blogs, twitter feeds and media engagement of the historical experiences of parks and their social role in communities.

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/N001788/1 01/11/2015 31/07/2016 £195,703
AH/N001788/2 Transfer AH/N001788/1 01/08/2016 30/11/2017 £123,238
 
Title Digital photographic archive of Leeds' parks through time 
Description The research team collected photographs of Leeds parks through time, both from Leeds Parks & Countryside Service and from members of the public. In collaboration with Leeds Library & Information Service, these images were digitised to create a new, digital photographic archive of Leeds parks through time. These images illustrate the many faces of Leeds park life through time, and provide evocative scenes through which the city's residents may reflect on their memories of Leeds and its parks. The archive comprises 131 images, which were not previously in the public domain and are available in perpetuity. The images are accessible via the 'Leodis' website, hosted by Leeds Library and Information Service (www.leodis.net). A selection of the images has also been featured on the new 'Leodis Collections' site (http://leodiscollections.net/collection/10). To date, visitors to the site have made 20 comments on the photographs, sharing their memories of the parks pictured in generations gone by. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Ongoing engagement with wider public audiences, via both the collection and the display of the images. 
URL http://leodiscollections.net/collection/1
 
Title Series of posters displaying the project's research findings for a lay audience 
Description In preparation for public exhibitions on Leeds parks through time, the research time produced a series of 18 A1 posters reporting major findings from the project concerning the history of Leeds parks, uses and experiences of Leeds parks today and the future prospects of public parks in Leeds and beyond. The posters accessibly present research findings on a range of topics, from the origins of the Victorian park movement and the founding stories of several of Leeds's best known parks, to patterns of visiting and visitor experience today, to the funding challenges and future sustainability of public parks moving into the future. Three of the posters are aimed specifically at children, and present the basic findings in each of these areas in an especially accessible manner. These attractively presented posters feature original photographs of park life, past and present, besides diagrams and infographics reporting the major findings from the survey of park users. The posters have been made freely available to view and download from the project website. The have also been displayed by Leeds City Council at various events, including the launch of the Leeds Parks Fund - a fund for charitable donations to parks - and the opening of Arium - a new Council run plant nursery. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The posters were viewed by over a 1,000 people, including children and young people, attending various exhibitions and displays across the city. They engaged a wide and diverse audience, with very positive feedback. See engagement activities for a breakdown of public feedback on this output. 
URL https://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2017/01/Exhibition-Posters.pdf
 
Description 1. We generated significant new information, drawn from a city-wide public survey, previously unexploited historical archives and a wide range of public engagement activities, about people's uses of urban public parks in Leeds, their experiences of visiting them and their hopes, fears and expectations for their future, both in the Victorian era at the time of their foundation, and today. We used this new knowledge to develop and extend theoretical understandings of the relationships between people's experiences and their expectations of how past and future combine, in any given present. We found that in the early nineteenth century parks were integral to idealised visions of an improved future city, and they became prominent symbols of Victorian social progress and civic pride. Yet, this optimistic vision of the improving park - that would transform the city of the future - has lost much of its lustre. The Victorian confidence in acquiring parks in perpetuity contrasts with today's future prospect of parks as vulnerable assets, at risk of development or being leased for commercial use. Nevertheless, other than a broad appreciation of austerity pressures, awareness among visitors that parks are under threat were not tangible for most. By contrast, park managers were acutely aware of the scale of the funding challenges facing public parks and expressed fears for their future sustainability. Furthermore, the temporal range of expectations has shortened in recent times, to the extent that the future is frequently framed in terms of the next decade rather than generations to come, and largely in terms of preserving the past rather than reimagining the future. 2. Through a city-wide public survey with over 6,400 people in Leeds, we generated new knowledge about park (non)use and experiences. In particular, we found that certain groups in the population (older and disabled people) use parks less and that poor health or disability, not enough time and problems of accessibility were core reasons for non-use. We discovered that there are differential experiences of parks across the city, notably in terms of the type of park that people visit most often (a local, community park or a major, city park) and in terms of the formally measured quality of their main park of use. Parks of designated quality standards were found through the research to be associated with enriched experiences, greater public satisfaction and well-being. From this research, we developed recommendations about the future management of parks in Leeds and similar cities. We are currently working with the local authority to use the findings to promote universal access to good quality green space for all residents and visitors, playing due regard to the specific needs of particular groups of people that enable them to enjoy the full benefits that derive from well-managed parks. 3.Through the research, we developed a digital archive of images of Leeds' parks over time, using photographs submitted by members of the public and Leeds Parks & Countryside Service. The collection documents continuities and changes in uses and users of parks across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and thus provides a valuable, publically-accessible resource on the history of Leeds and its parks. The collection is hosted by Leeds City Council Library and Information Service and is accessible via the Leodis website: www.leodis.net (search for 'future prospects' to access the collection). The archive was officially launched at a public exhibition on 'Leeds Parks: Past, Present and Future' held at Roundhay Park in May 2017, which was later taken on tour to two other parks and attracted over 1,000 visitors. 4. Through the research we have developed a new collaborative partnership and relations with key organisations through which we have engendered a national, research-informed public policy debate about the future of parks. This partnership collaborated on a major national conference held in 2017 at which 79 delegates from across 64 organisations participated in sharing innovative thinking and learning from policy, practice and research on ways to maximise the value of parks as public assets in the twenty-first century, and to consider challenges that threaten the sustainability of public parks in the future. The conference included a session with MP Clive Betts who oversaw the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into public parks. The conference was widely debated in the media and on twitter, such that the hastag #myparkmatters used for the conference was trending. The lessons learned are helping to inform the discussions and agenda of the newly-established Parks Action Group.
Exploitation Route The findings developed important new knowledge of the historical and contemporary role, uses, experiences and expectations of key public spaces in cities - public parks - and, as such, have a wide reach in terms of potential interest across a variety of sectors and disciplines as well as geographically, both within and beyond the city (of Leeds) in which the research was based. The findings might be taken forward and put to use by others in a variety of ways, including: (i) by local authorities, government and policy makers to develop parks policy and practice in relation to the provision of good quality, safe, inclusive and accessible green spaces in cities; (ii) by community/civic groups and diverse organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure that their contribution is harnessed in support of good quality accessible urban parks, particularly given the wide-ranging benefits to social relations and people's health and well-being that respondents say derive from park enjoyment; (iii) by educators in teaching and research; (iv) by the cultural sector to advance public knowledge of the social and cultural heritage of public parks and the social role that they play (or might play) in communities of the past, the present and the future.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk
 
Description The findings have been used: (i) by Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside Service to inform the development of parks policy and practice in Leeds and to harness the contributions of organisations whom they work in partnership with (from diverse public, private and voluntary sectors) in order to raise the standard of parks across the city to ensure access to good quality green space for all residents and visitors. It is envisaged that the Parks and Countryside Service will use the findings to inform and revise the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Strategy due to be published in 2020; (ii) by the media, the research team and wider organisations, including The Parks Alliance and Historic England, to inform, stimulate and shape public debate at the national level on the future of parks in the broader context of the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into public parks (which reported in 2017); (iii) by over a thousand members of the general public in Leeds, to enrich their understanding of uses and experiences of Leeds parks, past and present, via one or more of the following forms of public engagement - public exhibitions including poster displays (held in or adjacent to the three case study parks); history tours of parks; and online photographic archive of Leeds parks; (iv) by the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum (representing over 80 organisations linked to parks and green spaces) to inform their annual priorities for parks; and (v) by the Leeds Library and Information Service to promote engagement with the publicly available, city-wide online photographic archive of Leeds.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Submission to the Communities and Local Government Committee's Public Inquiry on Parks
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communities-and-loc...
 
Description Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account
Amount £13,536 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K503836/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 10/2017
 
Description Rethinking Parks
Amount £171,289 (GBP)
Funding ID 115652 
Organisation Nesta 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 04/2019
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation Design Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation Groundwork
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation Heritage Lottery Fund
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation Historic England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation London Metropolitan University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation The Parks Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation The Parks Alliance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation University of Bradford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation University of East London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation University of Leicester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Advisory Network 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. The research team make intellectual contributions by sharing our research and co-coordinating discussion with and between the members of the network.
Collaborator Contribution The advisory network largely operates in a 'virtual' capacity, through email updates and quarterly newsletters. Our advisors offer intellectual inputs according to their expertise in the field, and help shape our important programme of research. They advise us on how our research connects with and advances wider debates. In addition, partners are invited to key project dissemination events. Partners have also advised on programme for the national conference held in July 2017 on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research. Historic England featured our research in an article in 'Historic England Research', Issue 5, April 2017.
Impact Development of successful Leeds Social Sciences-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account bid with selected members of the Advisory Network which led to a national conference held in July 2017 responding to the House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Partnership 
Organisation Groundwork
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project team, led by Dr Anna Barker, submitted a successful bid to the Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account with letters of support from The Parks Alliance, Historic England and Groundwork. The bid involved working in collaboration with partners to forge a new network of researchers and relevant organisations to foster a research-informed debate about urban park futures. The research team, with support from the partners, organised for the network to come together to respond to the findings and conclusions of the 2016-2017 House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks through a national conference in July 2017, which contributed to shaping the ensuing public debate. The research team produced written proceedings from the conference to draw together the insights of the network and partners.
Collaborator Contribution Four organisations - Historic England, The Parks Alliance, Groundwork and idverde - worked with the research team to exploit opportunities presented by the House of Commons Inquiry to engender a national, research-informed policy debate about the future of public parks. Idverde joined as partners following the first meeting of the group in January 2017 and sponsored the national conference (£2,500). All four were new partners, and each provided a letter of support showing clear commitment and in-kind contributions to this project, and interest in the further development of the project and partnership. Notably, they provided time to planning the national conference held in July 2017, including attending two core meetings, chaired sessions of the conference, promoted the conference and invited key speakers. The Parks Alliance also contributed to a conference organised by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute in June 2017 on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space'. Historic England champions and protects historic environments, manages the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, and have been instrumental in setting national priorities for research on urban parks as part of their 'heritage at risk' programme. The Parks Alliance has a successful record of local, national and international campaigning as the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, invest in and use these public spaces. Groundwork is a community charity with expertise in creating sustainable futures and building stronger communities by improving green space. Idverde is Europe's largest provider of grounds maintenance services.
Impact Project partner and conference planning meeting (January 2017); Project partner and conference planning meeting (June 2017); Leeds Social Sciences Institute Conference on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space' (June 2017); National conference on the 'Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research' (July 2017)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Partnership 
Organisation Historic England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The project team, led by Dr Anna Barker, submitted a successful bid to the Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account with letters of support from The Parks Alliance, Historic England and Groundwork. The bid involved working in collaboration with partners to forge a new network of researchers and relevant organisations to foster a research-informed debate about urban park futures. The research team, with support from the partners, organised for the network to come together to respond to the findings and conclusions of the 2016-2017 House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks through a national conference in July 2017, which contributed to shaping the ensuing public debate. The research team produced written proceedings from the conference to draw together the insights of the network and partners.
Collaborator Contribution Four organisations - Historic England, The Parks Alliance, Groundwork and idverde - worked with the research team to exploit opportunities presented by the House of Commons Inquiry to engender a national, research-informed policy debate about the future of public parks. Idverde joined as partners following the first meeting of the group in January 2017 and sponsored the national conference (£2,500). All four were new partners, and each provided a letter of support showing clear commitment and in-kind contributions to this project, and interest in the further development of the project and partnership. Notably, they provided time to planning the national conference held in July 2017, including attending two core meetings, chaired sessions of the conference, promoted the conference and invited key speakers. The Parks Alliance also contributed to a conference organised by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute in June 2017 on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space'. Historic England champions and protects historic environments, manages the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, and have been instrumental in setting national priorities for research on urban parks as part of their 'heritage at risk' programme. The Parks Alliance has a successful record of local, national and international campaigning as the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, invest in and use these public spaces. Groundwork is a community charity with expertise in creating sustainable futures and building stronger communities by improving green space. Idverde is Europe's largest provider of grounds maintenance services.
Impact Project partner and conference planning meeting (January 2017); Project partner and conference planning meeting (June 2017); Leeds Social Sciences Institute Conference on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space' (June 2017); National conference on the 'Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research' (July 2017)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Partnership 
Organisation The Parks Alliance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project team, led by Dr Anna Barker, submitted a successful bid to the Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account with letters of support from The Parks Alliance, Historic England and Groundwork. The bid involved working in collaboration with partners to forge a new network of researchers and relevant organisations to foster a research-informed debate about urban park futures. The research team, with support from the partners, organised for the network to come together to respond to the findings and conclusions of the 2016-2017 House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks through a national conference in July 2017, which contributed to shaping the ensuing public debate. The research team produced written proceedings from the conference to draw together the insights of the network and partners.
Collaborator Contribution Four organisations - Historic England, The Parks Alliance, Groundwork and idverde - worked with the research team to exploit opportunities presented by the House of Commons Inquiry to engender a national, research-informed policy debate about the future of public parks. Idverde joined as partners following the first meeting of the group in January 2017 and sponsored the national conference (£2,500). All four were new partners, and each provided a letter of support showing clear commitment and in-kind contributions to this project, and interest in the further development of the project and partnership. Notably, they provided time to planning the national conference held in July 2017, including attending two core meetings, chaired sessions of the conference, promoted the conference and invited key speakers. The Parks Alliance also contributed to a conference organised by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute in June 2017 on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space'. Historic England champions and protects historic environments, manages the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, and have been instrumental in setting national priorities for research on urban parks as part of their 'heritage at risk' programme. The Parks Alliance has a successful record of local, national and international campaigning as the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, invest in and use these public spaces. Groundwork is a community charity with expertise in creating sustainable futures and building stronger communities by improving green space. Idverde is Europe's largest provider of grounds maintenance services.
Impact Project partner and conference planning meeting (January 2017); Project partner and conference planning meeting (June 2017); Leeds Social Sciences Institute Conference on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space' (June 2017); National conference on the 'Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research' (July 2017)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Partnership 
Organisation idverde UK
PI Contribution The project team, led by Dr Anna Barker, submitted a successful bid to the Leeds Social Sciences Institute-run ESRC Impact Acceleration Account with letters of support from The Parks Alliance, Historic England and Groundwork. The bid involved working in collaboration with partners to forge a new network of researchers and relevant organisations to foster a research-informed debate about urban park futures. The research team, with support from the partners, organised for the network to come together to respond to the findings and conclusions of the 2016-2017 House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry into Public Parks through a national conference in July 2017, which contributed to shaping the ensuing public debate. The research team produced written proceedings from the conference to draw together the insights of the network and partners.
Collaborator Contribution Four organisations - Historic England, The Parks Alliance, Groundwork and idverde - worked with the research team to exploit opportunities presented by the House of Commons Inquiry to engender a national, research-informed policy debate about the future of public parks. Idverde joined as partners following the first meeting of the group in January 2017 and sponsored the national conference (£2,500). All four were new partners, and each provided a letter of support showing clear commitment and in-kind contributions to this project, and interest in the further development of the project and partnership. Notably, they provided time to planning the national conference held in July 2017, including attending two core meetings, chaired sessions of the conference, promoted the conference and invited key speakers. The Parks Alliance also contributed to a conference organised by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute in June 2017 on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space'. Historic England champions and protects historic environments, manages the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, and have been instrumental in setting national priorities for research on urban parks as part of their 'heritage at risk' programme. The Parks Alliance has a successful record of local, national and international campaigning as the voice of UK parks, representing the people and organisations that create, invest in and use these public spaces. Groundwork is a community charity with expertise in creating sustainable futures and building stronger communities by improving green space. Idverde is Europe's largest provider of grounds maintenance services.
Impact Project partner and conference planning meeting (January 2017); Project partner and conference planning meeting (June 2017); Leeds Social Sciences Institute Conference on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space' (June 2017); National conference on the 'Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research' (July 2017)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Rethinking Parks - Leeds Parks Fund Partnership 
Organisation Big Lottery Fund
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund. In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund, in partnership with Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks. The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. The project is led by the following organisations; University of Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council.
Collaborator Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. All partners have been involved in collaborating with a range of wider organisations.
Impact The collaborative is multi-sectorial, involving the University, City Council, voluntary organisation, and third sector charitable body. The partnership are drawing lessons for local authorities and other relevant bodies across the UK.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Rethinking Parks - Leeds Parks Fund Partnership 
Organisation Heritage Lottery Fund
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund. In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund, in partnership with Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks. The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. The project is led by the following organisations; University of Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council.
Collaborator Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. All partners have been involved in collaborating with a range of wider organisations.
Impact The collaborative is multi-sectorial, involving the University, City Council, voluntary organisation, and third sector charitable body. The partnership are drawing lessons for local authorities and other relevant bodies across the UK.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Rethinking Parks - Leeds Parks Fund Partnership 
Organisation Leeds City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund. In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund, in partnership with Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks. The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. The project is led by the following organisations; University of Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council.
Collaborator Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. All partners have been involved in collaborating with a range of wider organisations.
Impact The collaborative is multi-sectorial, involving the University, City Council, voluntary organisation, and third sector charitable body. The partnership are drawing lessons for local authorities and other relevant bodies across the UK.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Rethinking Parks - Leeds Parks Fund Partnership 
Organisation Leeds Community Foundation
PI Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund. In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund, in partnership with Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks. The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. The project is led by the following organisations; University of Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council.
Collaborator Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. All partners have been involved in collaborating with a range of wider organisations.
Impact The collaborative is multi-sectorial, involving the University, City Council, voluntary organisation, and third sector charitable body. The partnership are drawing lessons for local authorities and other relevant bodies across the UK.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Rethinking Parks - Leeds Parks Fund Partnership 
Organisation Nesta
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund. In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund, in partnership with Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks. The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country. It is funded by Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Nesta. The project is led by the following organisations; University of Leeds, Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council.
Collaborator Contribution The Leeds Parks Fund was initiated by a partnership including Leeds Community Foundation, Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum and Leeds City Council. All partners have been involved in collaborating with a range of wider organisations.
Impact The collaborative is multi-sectorial, involving the University, City Council, voluntary organisation, and third sector charitable body. The partnership are drawing lessons for local authorities and other relevant bodies across the UK.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Be Curious 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Over 1,000 visitors attended Be Curious on 25 March 2017, with nearly equal numbers of adults and children attending. At this University research showcase event, we ran a stand promoting our research findings and led a historical tour of Woodhouse Moor, one of our three case-study parks.

Overall visitors came from 21 different Leeds postal areas, 6 Wakefield and 3 Bradford postal areas, as well as visitors from Sheffield, York, Calderdale, Huddersfield and further afield in Yorkshire and beyond. In total, 68% of visitors came from Leeds postcodes.

Evaluation postcards on exit were collected from 113 respondents representing the views of their parties, totalling 380 people. There were 77 first time visitors to the university (20%). Facebook or 'online' were the most frequent responses for how those first time visitors had been reached. Several said they had found out via school (leaflet, letter) and others via staff members of the university. Overall word of mouth was the most frequent way to hear about the event, followed by the website and Facebook. Posters, leaflets/flyers were the least useful.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Community Event (Beeston Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a stall at three community events in Leeds (one for each of our case study parks) to publicize the project, and engage the public in our research, inviting them to submit their photographs of parks and sign up for interviewees. During and immediately after the event, we received interest from and enlisted the assistance of several members of the public in our data collection process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Community Event (REAP Farmers' Market, Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a stall at three community events in Leeds (one for each of our case study parks) to publicize the project, and engage the public in our research, inviting them to submit their photographs of parks and sign up for interviewees. During and immediately after the event, we received interest from and enlisted the assistance of several members of the public in our data collection process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Community Event (Unity Day, Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a stall at three community events in Leeds (one for each of our case study parks) to publicize the project, and engage the public in our research, inviting them to submit their photographs of parks and sign up for interviewees. During and immediately after the event, we received interest from and enlisted the assistance of several members of the public in our data collection process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Discussion of the Leeds Parks Survey findings with the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact On the 25th January, Anna Barker presented a summary of the main findings with the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum, which is a voluntary organisation made up of individuals, groups and organisations interested in enhancing green spaces in Leeds. It acts as the regional forum for all 'friends' of parks and green spaces groups from across the city. The talk was given at their general meeting held at Leeds Civic Hall. The findings were discussed with over 40 people attending the meeting and sparked questions about the accessibility of parks for certain groups of people and how the standard of parks across the city can be improved, since the research shows that the use and experience is correlated with quality (notably, the Leeds Quality Park (LQP) standard). At the meeting the forum members voted in their top three priorities for the next year, which included 'assessing parks and green spaces for accessibility and inclusivity'. The identification of priorities were influenced in part by the publication of a report on the survey produced in 2017 and discussed at the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces forum on the 18 October 2017. Following the event, the Chair of the forum, Lynda Kitching, wrote in a personal communication, via email, that '...your research can and will inform projects to enhance parks and other green spaces. The issue of people with disabilities not using parks for a host of reasons, which links in with our health and well-being agenda - both subjects on the Forum's radar. Also what happens to the LQP data, especially where your research shows poorer experiences, will be a question we'll ask of our senior P&C contacts. I'd see a role for the Forum, Councillors and Council officers in making improvements.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Horticulture Weekly - Parks funding solutions for cash-strapped local authorities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Horticulture Weekly covered the national conference on the Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research held on 13 July 2017. They produced an article covering the conference proceedings in August 2017 helping to shape public debate at the national level.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.hortweek.com/parks-funding-solutions-cash-strapped-local-authorities/parks-and-gardens/a...
 
Description IAA Bid Project Partner Meeting (January 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Four members of our team met with four members of our Advisory Network and new collaborative partners to begin working together to plan future events and activities, including a major national conference in July 2017 as part of our successful Impact Acceleration Account bid (see further funding and collaborations & partnerships). We met at Nene Park, Peterborough, to discuss the format, structure and themes of our conference. We also used this meeting to confirm future engagement with the conference from each of our project partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description IAA Bid Project Partner Meeting (June 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the second meeting held to discuss the plans for the national conference to be held in July 2017, the implications of the findings of the Leeds Parks Project study, and the development of an AHRC Research Network bid. The research team met with members of the Advisory Network and IAA bid partners (see partnerships and collaborations), including: CEO, The Parks Alliance; Business Manager, idverde; David Lambert, The Parks Agency; Ken Worpole, London Metropolitan University; Katy Layton-Jones, University of Leicester; Jenifer White, Historic England. The meeting garnered the support of partners for a future bid, and finalised plans for the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description LSSI Workshop on the Future of Parks and Green Spaces (5 June 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The research team convened a workshop on the future of parks and green spaces as part of the Leeds Social Sciences Institute Conference on 'Reimagining the Future of Urban Public Space' held on June 5th 2017. Anna Barker (University of Leeds) led and facilitated the workshop with contributions from: Mike Kinnaird (Leeds City Council, AHRC project partners), David Lambert (Parks Agency, AHRC project advisor) and Ken Worpole (Cities Institute London Metropolitan University, AHRC project advisor). The workshop aimed to facilitate debate on both the challenges and opportunities facing public parks, in Leeds and beyond, and how research has/can contribute to the reimagining urban parks and greenspaces. Participants discussed a number of points regarding the main challenges/opportunities and possible solutions around the topic of green spaces to be taken forward by the Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Forum. We also showcased the 'Leeds Parks: Past, Present and Future' Exhibition at an evening reception of this confernece that was open to the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://lssi.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Reimagining-the-Future-of-Urban-Public-Space-Con...
 
Description Leeds Parks: Past, Present and Future 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This free public exhibition, held at the most popular park in Leeds over a bank holiday weekend, was designed to engage the city's residents in the core themes of the research project. Specifically, it aimed to enhance public awareness and understanding of: 1) the history and heritage of the city's parks; 2) how the city's parks are used and valued today; 3) the future prospects of public parks within Leeds and more widely. Displays included a series of posters outlining the project's major findings and a slideshow of images of Leeds parks through time, collected and digitised through the project. The exhibition also featured an interactive quiz on the research findings, historic walking tours of the Park, a public lecture on the history of Leeds parks, and drawing activities for children. The Roundhay exhibition attracted 842 visitors in total. With an estimated average stay of 13 minutes per visitor, this amounts to over 182 hours of public engagement. Around 250 visitors engaged in an interactive quiz, which tested what they had learned from the exhibition in the three priority areas: the historical origins of Leeds parks; contemporary public usage and perceptions of Leeds parks; and the future prospects of public parks in the UK. The quiz success rate in these areas was 78.6%, 81.5% and 78.8% respectively, indicating a high level of engagement with and learning from each area of the exhibition. More general feedback was very positive, as the following comments recorded by visitors indicate:
"Thank you so much for such an interesting talk and exhibition on this very valuable resource for our city."
"Really enjoyed the exhibitionThe exhibition enlightened me and made me realise parks may be in danger."
"Lovely exhibition - very informative. Thank you."
"Looking forward to more insights from the research!"
Besides the public exhibition, the research team held a preview session attended by local councillors, park managers and representatives of civil society organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/exhibition/
 
Description Leeds Parks: Past, Present and Future (Cross Flatts Park event) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This free public exhibition was designed to engage residents of the south of Leeds in the core themes of the research project. Specifically, it aimed to enhance public awareness and understanding of: 1) the history and heritage of the city's parks; 2) how the city's parks are used and valued today; 3) the future prospects of public parks within Leeds and more widely.
Displays included a series of posters outlining the project's major findings and a slideshow of images of Leeds parks through time, collected and digitised through the project. The exhibition also featured a historic walking tour of the Park. The Cross Flatts exhibition attracted almost 100 visitors in total, and oral feedback from visitors was positive. A number of local councillors and park staff also attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/exhibition/
 
Description Letter to The Guardian - In austerity britain, people need parks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A joint letter published in The Guardian (25/12/17) to raise awareness of the loss of a significant source for funding of parks and the implications of a lack of an effective policy to sustain the benefits of parks in the future, by David Lambert, Dr Stewart Harding, The Parks Agency; Ian Baggott, Communities First Partnership; Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds; Matthew Bradbury, The Parks Alliance; Professor Robert Lee, The North West Parks Friends Forum; Dominic Liptrot, Lost Art; Anna Minton, author; Peter Neal, consultant; Paul Rabbitts, head of parks, Watford borough council; Dr Sid Sullivan; Professor Ken Worpole.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/dec/25/in-austerity-britain-people-need-parks
 
Description Meeting with Community Group (Feed Leeds) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We met with local community groups to promote our research and engage them in our project. These collaborations involved these groups sharing their expertise in issues relating to their park and wider community. The activity resulted in continued engagement with such groups, and, in many cases, their assistance in sourcing participants for our data collection (interviews). They also helped promote our project more widely to the local community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Community Group (Friends of Woodhouse Moor) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We met with local community groups to promote our research and engage them in our project. These collaborations involved these groups sharing their expertise in issues relating to their park and wider community. The activity resulted in continued engagement with such groups, and, in many cases, their assistance in sourcing participants for our data collection (interviews). They also helped promote our project more widely to the local community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with Representative from the Department for Communities and Local Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact On 13 November 2017, the research team had a meeting with Matthew Brannen, Knowledge and Communications Manager, Department for Communities and Local Government. He had contacted the team to discuss our research and gain our opinions on issues to be taken forward by the Parks Action Group, a cross-government, cross-sectoral group set up following the CLG Inquiry into Public Parks. Following the meeting, we were informed that we may be co-opted on to one or two of the meetings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with community group (Friends of Roundhay Park) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We met with local community groups to promote our research and engage them in our project. These collaborations involved these groups sharing their expertise in issues relating to their park and wider community. The activity resulted in continued engagement with such groups, and, in many cases, their assistance in sourcing participants for our data collection (interviews). They also helped promote our project more widely to the local community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with community group (Hyde Park Source) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We met with local community groups to promote our research and engage them in our project. These collaborations involved these groups sharing their expertise in issues relating to their park and wider community. The activity resulted in continued engagement with such groups, and, in many cases, their assistance in sourcing participants for our data collection (interviews). They also helped promote our project more widely to the local community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Meeting with local community group (Friend of Cross Flatts Park) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We met with local community groups to promote our research and engage them in our project. These collaborations involved these groups sharing their expertise in issues relating to their park and wider community. The activity resulted in continued engagement with such groups, and, in many cases, their assistance in sourcing participants for our data collection (interviews). They also helped promote our project more widely to the local community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description National Conference The Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research 13 July 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On Thursday 13th July, the University of Leeds hosted a major one-day national conference entitled 'The Future of Public Parks' at The British Academy in London. The conference was sponsored by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute and idverde, with support from The Parks Alliance, Historic England and Groundwork. Some 79 delegates from 69 organisations (including Government, public, private and third sectors) participated in a lively and engaging event which drew together innovative thinking and learning from policy, practice and research on ways to maximise the value of parks as public assets in the twenty-first century, and to consider challenges that threaten the sustainability of public parks in the future. The event brought together academics from diverse disciplines, funding bodies, policy-makers (including MP Clive Betts, the Chair of the CLG Select Committee which oversaw the inquiry into public parks) and practitioners from the across the public, voluntary and private sectors. At a time when the future of public parks is both in the balance and in the national spotlight, the presenters and delegates explored important issues and challenges that inform diverse models of park management whether local authorities, trusts, charities or private sector. These included questions about health and wellbeing, social and educational use, community involvement and strategies for generating income. The conference provided a timely opportunity to foster a research-informed, policy and practice-orientated dialogue about park futures and offered a platform for advancing public debate in light of the findings and recommendations of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Inquiry. Importantly, it provided a unique opportunity for multi-disciplinary, inter-professional and cross-sectoral debate that enabled delegates to explore common questions, mutual strategies and shared interest in promoting the social role and value of public parks. The conference was widely debated and talked about on twitter, such that the hastag #myparkmatters used for the conference was trending! Please visit https://storify.com/leedsparksstudy/getting-started#publicize to view a storify of the day's tweets. Horticulture Weekly covered the event and reported on the conference proceedings, helping to shape public debate following the Inquiry. Public Sector Focus magazine requested a write up of the main implications for policy and practice, and this featured in their August/September edition. The Department for CLG contacted the research team to learn more about the conference discussions and research in Leeds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://futureofparks.leeds.ac.uk/conference/
 
Description Newspaper Feature (Yorkshire Post) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Feature and interview to promote the project and our call for photos/interviewees
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://leedsparksproject.wordpress.com/media/#jp-carousel-164
 
Description Newspaper Feature and Interview (Yorkshire Evening Post) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Feature and interview to promote the project and our call for photos/interviewees
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://leedsparksproject.wordpress.com/media/#jp-carousel-163
 
Description Paper presentation to European Association of Urban Historians conference, Helsinki 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation of research paper at the European Association of Urban Historians conference. The audience was composed of historians and social scientists interested in urban history, principally from across Europe, but also from other parts of the world. The paper was entitled: 'Space, Experience and Expectation in the Victorian City: Everyday Perceptions of Public Parks in Leeds, c.1850-1914'. Besides presenting to individuals attending the session, the paper was also uploaded to the Conference's paper pre-circulation system.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Parklife: Britain's beloved urban parks need a funding boost to save them, The Conversation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Parklife: Britain's beloved urban parks need a funding boost to save them' was an article published online in The Conversation and republished by City Metric. It has received 2,245 reads of which 990 were international.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://theconversation.com/parklife-britains-beloved-urban-parks-need-a-funding-boost-to-save-them-...
 
Description Policy- and Practice-focused workshop with Leeds City Council Parks and Countryside Service 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On the 19th January 2018, the research team held a half-day workshop with 20 managers from Leeds City Council, principally from the Parks & Countryside Service, to discuss a draft report of the findings from the Leeds Parks Survey. The workshop had three core aims: (i) To present findings from the Leeds Parks Survey 2016 (ii) To explore and understand the findings and their implications for parks policy and practice in Leeds (iii) To discuss the draft recommendations for policy and practice and how they might be delivered. The workshop produced lively discussion of the findings, and identified key areas to be taken forward by policy and practice, including using the survey findings to inform the next Leeds Parks and Green Spaces Strategy which is being produced for 2020. The findings identified a number of implications for managing parks in the short and long term, including garnering support and funding for parks to ensure that all parks in the city meet the Leeds Quality Park (LQP) standard. The research findings identified that there is a differential experience of parks across the city, with enhanced experiences and well-being of park-users who usually visit parks that were of LQP standard. The findings also identified that certain groups in the population, notably peopled aged over 75 and disabled people, are significantly less likely to use parks. Managers agreed that these findings require further research and investigation to ensure that parks are accessible and welcoming to all. Of the 18 feedback forms we received, all strongly agreed or agreed with the following statements: 'The survey findings have enhanced my understanding of the uses and experiences of parks in Leeds by members of the public' and 'The survey findings have important implications for enhancing the management of parks in Leeds'. 16 out of 18 strongly agreed or agreed that 'The recommendations for policy and practice are appropriate and valuable' and 13 out of 17 strongly agreed or agreed that 'I am likely to suggest or make changes to policies or practices in Leeds as a result of the survey findings'. We also received the following comments that relate to potential impact: 'It will inform development of the next parks and green spaces strategy. It's really useful from an equal opps perspective to ensure we're providing a good service for all citizens e.g. will feed into the "Best City for Older People"'; 'Engage better with the LQP judging as this still seems one of the best methods of measuring the quality of our parks. However, we may need to realign some of the judging criteria to reflect the survey.'; 'Continue to focus on quality parks. Seek ways to direct investment so that all community parks achieve LQP. Use findings as foundation for reviewing parks and green spaces strategy.'; 'As an organisation, need to work more strategically with partners within and outside LCC to achieve some of the recommendations.'; '• From the discussions in the workshop there was a consensus that the LQP standard, if met throughout Leeds, would enhance the visitor experience. In the short-term the need to make quicker/easier outputs.'; 'There are some quick wins using data from the survey to influence the annual LQP program. The survey data can inform the new parks and green spaces strategy.'; 'Long-term - A clearer, newer strategy for the parks survey. Short-term - Tighten up our LQP process and how these results are used.'; 'The survey showed a need to address facilities in particular parks to improve the user experience. While funds are limited the service will have to look at strategic methods to meet the clear demand.' Leeds City Council Parks & Countryside also agreed to write a foreword to the survey findings report to be published in mid-February 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Postgraduate Seminar (Leeds Beckett University) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A seminar class prepared and delivered to postgraduate students, to share initial research and methodologies arising from the first year of our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to American Society of Criminology conference in New Orleans 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to the American Society of Criminology Conference in New Orleans, for which the audience was a mix of international academic researchers from the USA and beyond as well as some policing professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to the Conference on Regulation and Criminology: Looking Back, Thinking Forward 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to the Conference on Regulation and Criminology: Looking Back, Thinking Forward, 3 July.

According to the dominant Victorian vision, the urban public park was to be an improved and improving space, promising rich rewards in terms of public health, social cohesion, moral consensus and political stability. Yet how was this vision to be realised? This paper suggests that via three inter-connected processes of park-making - acquisition, design and regulation - local governors sought to demarcate public parks as spaces apart from the surrounding city, and as sites for governing the wider social relations of the city. Situating park-making as a process highlights its contingency, instability and incompleteness. This paper focuses particularly on the regulatory aspect of park-making: it dwells not so much on how spatial context informs regulation, but on how regulation sustains space. By drawing out the dilemmas and tensions embedded in the regulation of public parks, it exposes the limits of park-making, even in its late-Victorian and Edwardian heyday. The paper closes by reflecting on the legacy of this frustrated project of spatial regulation in the contemporary era, as urban parks face urgent threats to their survival as spaces apart from the city.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to the Urban History Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Paper presentation to the Urban History Group Conference, 30 March 2017.

Paper entitled: Bounding Spaces of Improvement: The making of public parks
in Victorian and Edwardian Leeds

The dominant Victorian vision of the public park - as an improved and improving space,
promising rich rewards in terms of urban public health, social cohesion, moral consensus
and political order - is well known. Less often studied are the various processes by
which local governors sought to realize these ideas in practice. Hence, this paper focuses
on the practical making and governing of public parks in Leeds between 1857 and 1914,
drawing on newspaper reports, municipal records and police archives. Responding to the
conference theme, it approaches the process of park-making as one of bounding and
governing particular territories within the city as spaces apart, a process which sought to
transform parks into agents of wider urban improvement. Thus, the acquisition, design,
engineering, regulation and policing of urban public parks are brought together
analytically as aspects of a governmental initiative designed to demarcate the park from
the surrounding city, to improve the park according to particular spatial logics, and to
maintain the park as a site of governing the wider social relations of the city. However,
at each stage, this governmental initiative was diverted, frustrated or resisted by various
forces, from the spatial and environmental difficulties posed by parks themselves, to
political opposition within and beyond the institutions of municipal government, to the
alternative notions of park-life held by the people of the city. The paper closes by
reflecting on the legacy of this frustrated project of bounded spatial governance in the
contemporary era, as urban parks face urgent threats to their continued survival as
spaces apart in today's cities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Press release - A rare glimpse of Leeds' parks through time 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Press release to advertise and launch the development of a public exhibition and new photographic archive of Leeds' parks through time
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4037/a_rare_glimpse_of_leeds_parks_through_time
 
Description Press release - Call for a sustainable park policy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Joint press release with partners (see collaborations and partnerships) including Historic England, The Parks Alliance and Groundwork to call for a sustainable parks policy and warning that Parks and green spaces in UK towns and cities are in danger of falling further into neglect unless the Government shows positive leadership and engages with the sector in supporting the development of a long-term strategy to secure their future and programme of renaissance. The press release advertised the national conference, organised in collaboration with partners, to take place later that month (July, 2017) to ignite a debate around the future of the UK's parks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4075/experts_call_for_a_sustainable_parks_policy
 
Description Press release - Research calls for investment to target poorer quality parks across Leeds 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A joint press release was issued by the research team and project partners (Leeds City Council) which reported on the findings of the Leeds Parks Survey and their implications and recommendations for developing park policy and practice in Leeds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project Twitter Account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our Twitter account was used as a platform to share and engage with research on the state of parks, provide updates on the project, and to appeal to the public for their assistance in donating photographs and volunteering to be interviewed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL https://twitter.com/leedsparksstudy
 
Description Project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our initial website had three primary intended functions. First, to provide a hub for general information and news about the project. Second, to provide information about our public call for photographs and act as a repository for these images to be uploaded digitally. Thirdly, to promote our call for interviewees and provide a means of contact for interested parties. Our site was viewed over 100 times, with most of those who viewed uploading photographs or offering to participate in our interviews. While most of the traffic was from England, we also had visitors from the USA, Canada and Japan.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://leedsparksproject.wordpress.com/
 
Description Radio Interview (Bradford Community Radio) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio interview on Bradford Community Radio to promote the project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://leedsparksproject.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/radio-interview-bcb-28-october-2015.pdf
 
Description Researchers and Practitioners Call for UK's Beloved Parks to be Managed as Assets, Not Liabilities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Following the national conference on the Future of Public Parks held in July 2017, Anna Barker wrote an article to convey some of the learning from this conference and the research findings in Public Sector Focus. This magazine goes to the entire public sector in the UK, focusing on showcasing successes and innovations. They have a hard copy print of 4,000 and over 50,000 digital edition subscribers and website viewers across every local authority in the UK, all central government departments, the third sector, NHS in addition to higher and further education. The article focused on discussions by researchers and practitioners that parks should be run and managed as 'assets' not 'liabilities' (which is how they are often represented on local authority spread sheets).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Survey findings used in Leeds Parks Fund website and public engagement film 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Findings from the Leeds Parks Survey 2016 conducted as part of this research were used in a film developed by Leeds City Council, the Leeds Parks and Green Space Forum and Leeds Community Foundation to engage the public with the value of parks and inspire them to give charitably to the Leeds Parks Fund, launched on 13 July 2017. It is possible that this video influenced decisions by the public to engage with parks through charitable giving. To date the Fund has raised over £5,000.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://leedsparksfund.org/
 
Description TV Feature (BBC Look North) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact TV feature and interview to promote the project and our call for photographs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78oH0A70pc0
 
Description Talk to 'health, wellbeing and the public park' conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on park use and non-use (Findings from the Leeds Parks Project), delivered to conference entitled 'Health, wellbeing and the public park: Exploring the links between the present and the past and their implications for the future'. Held at University of Chester, 15 June 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to the Friends of Roundhay Park 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 25 people attended a talk on Roundhay Park: Past, Present and Future, held on 20 June.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017