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Source: City of Plymouth

Devonport Park

Parks and green spaces in Plymouth have had yet another funding boost.

The city has just secured just under €4 million thanks to a successful funding bid by Plymouth City Council and its partners.

The money, which comes from the European Commission, will go towards the Green Minds project which will re-wild urban parks, gardens and verges, introduce a new system of working with partners and crucially, encourage more people from all walks to life, to enjoy the health benefits that our green spaces provide.

This funding announcement follows hot-on-the-heels and compliments the Future Parks Accelerator; secured from the National Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund earlier this year.

Councillor Sue Dann, Cabinet member for Street Scene and the Environment, said: “This is a really exciting time for our green spaces with so many national bodies keen to invest in making them the very best that they can be.

“This project will dovetail perfectly with our work on our Future Parks initiative and will in time lead to us running sustainable parks, nature reserves and woodland areas fit for several generations to come.

“I’m looking forward to working with all the partners and communities to see the benefits of this project.”

This funding has been bid for in conjunction with the University of Plymouth, the National Trust at Saltram House, Devon Wildlife Trust, RIO, The Data Place and Plymouth College of Art.

The University, through its School of Art, Design and Architecture and School of Biological and Marine Sciences, will use scientific and digital tools to make nature in the city more visible and exciting.

Associate Professor Dr Katharine Willis said: “This is about imagining the future of parks in Plymouth, and we will use innovative ways to reveal and value nature in the city. Our world-leading expertise, in fields from marine research to smart cities, will help the wider partnership achieve that.

“The Green Minds project is a truly city-wide collaboration that builds on our existing work on the Future Parks Accelerator project and the development of the first National Marine Park. It will put us nationally at the forefront of innovation when it comes to rethinking nature and how the public engage with it.”

Ed Whitelaw, from the Real Ideas Organisation, who will help the project by creating a 360° nature documentary film for the immersive dome at the forthcoming new Market Hall, said: “This is a great opportunity to bring together and showcase two of Plymouth’s finest assets, our natural environment and our creative digital industries.”

A key part of this project will look at ensuring that Plymouth has a wider range of natural plants and flower by changing the way they are managed. Currently, the Council keep most verges and green spaces tidy and manicured. In a lot of places, like parks or next to road junctions, this is entirely appropriate.

But in other places, this affects biodiversity and has detrimental to the city’s overall green lung. Money from this scheme will go towards setting up a community-led forum to help properly manage and maintain these assets.

Another aim of the scheme is to introduce a city-wide culture change towards attitudes and behaviours to nature and the benefits it can bring to health and wellbeing. It will follow on from the successful Active Neighbourhoods Project in encouraging residents from some of Plymouth’s more urban areas to step outside and explore the place around.

The National Trust at Saltram House will help to add their expertise to create a community orchard, while Devon Wildlife Trust will establish a Ranger service to support public engagement with the project.

Finally, Plymouth College of Art students will benefit from using green spaces in Plymouth as real life case studies for their development of skills and practices. They will be working on permanent art installations, digital arts and urban design, all themed around ‘revealing urban nature’.

MIL OSI United Kingdom