Let’s Talk Parks: creating collaborative spaces


Newcastle City Council needed to re-envision and re-shape Newcastle’s public parks service.

Newcastle public parks lost about 90% of their funding due to austerity measures.

Newcastle City Council wanted to explore options to transfer the park services to a charitable entity in order to secure the future of the city’s parks.

Community values should drive the ambition and the vision for the trust and its board #NewcastleParks

Anonymous tweet from public consultation

The city needed to design a public engagement and consultation programme. This programme should involve local people and multiple stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the decision-making processes on how the city’s parks should be managed in the future.

Solving the problem

To find a solution to this loss of funding, Newcastle City Council decided to engage with citizens through the Open Lab to explore several scenarios:

  • how parks should be funded,
  • the activities parks should support,
  • how decisions should be made,
  • what role volunteers should play.

The Open Lab conducted consultations with more than 3000 participants to shape the future of public parks.

The Let’s Talk Parks workshops made at the Open Lab involved residents, allotment holders, the business community, local volunteer groups, park managers and rangers.

Key outcomes

The insights generated from the Let’s Talk Parks project informed the development of a new trust to run Newcastle’s parks: Urban Green.

Developed in partnership with the National Trust and communities across the city, Urban Green is seen as an example of a cooperative response to austerity.