06 April 2018
Imagine if you could start with a blank slate to design, fund and manage your area's parks and green spaces.
For Milton Keynes and their Parks Trust, this was their reality. And as the city celebrated its 50th birthday, there was double cause for celebration, as their linear parks network achieved the Green Flag Award for the first time.
This adds up to 6,000 acres of river valleys, woodlands, lake sides, parks and 80 miles of landscaped areas along the main roads. Or a massive 25% of the new city area.
The Parks Trust is an independent charity that cares for many of Milton Keynes' parks and green spaces. Like many things in this 'new town', the Trust's creation broke new ground. The city's founders wanted to be sure such a unique green landscape would be managed and protected forever, without having to compete for funds with other council priorities.
So the self-financing charity was set up, with a substantial endowment to fund their work, both now and into the future. Their vision was simple, to "create beautiful and inspirational parks, lakes and landscapes that will be loved by the people of Milton Keynes, forever."
Rob Riekie (Landscape and Operations Director) and James Cairncross (Landscape Infrastructure Manager) tell us more about our award-winning space. Integral to the design of the city, "this open space is connected and spun like a web across the city, which means that everyone has easy access to great quality green space network." "Although we have around 50 named parks, on the ground they form long linear systems and visitors can move between several parks, often without leaving the Trust’s land or travelling on the road."
"Thanks to the large number of events and activities that are organised and held in the parks with the help of our dedicated volunteers, it means they have a high value within the community.” Each year the Trust organise over 200 events, provide environmental education for hundreds of the city's schools (or nearly 6,000 children) and support a team of around 160 volunteers.
And their feelings on having achieved the Green Flag Award? "I take great pride in that the Trust has been given an overall award to all of its parks and that this is the first time nationally a whole parks complex comprising of over 6,000 acres of land has received an individual award." "We were thrilled to be awarded the flag for our linear park network as it recognises all the hard work our staff and volunteers have put in over the years."
Congratulations to everyone involved in turning Milton Keynes' linear park network into an award-winning reality.