Creating a Trust for Newcastle's Parks & Allotments
Why did we create the Newcastle Parks & Allotments Trust?
Over a period of seven years, the Council’s parks budget was reduced by over 90%, meaning that finding new ways of financing and running the city’s parks was essential. We needed to do this whilst staying committed to improving the way we delivered parks and allotments, keeping them in public ownership, safe, free to use, and making sure that local people, community groups and partners were still fully involved in the future delivery of the service.
What we proposed…
We worked with the National Trust, benefiting from their experience in caring for natural built heritage across the country, to help us find a positive way forward for Newcastle. We researched the possibility of transferring the operation, delivery and maintenance of a large proportion of the city’s parks and allotments to a new Charitable Trust (Charity).
On 20 November 2017, Cabinet agreed to create a new charitable company (Newcastle Parks Trust) and to transfer our parks and allotments to the new organisation to develop and care for, for future generations.
The Trust begins operating…
Newcastle Parks & Allotments Trust officially started operating across the city on April 1st, 2019.
You can find out more information on their website.
Banqueting Hall and Jesmond Dene...
The Council is charity trustee of Jesmond Dene Park and Banqueting Hall and has proposed changes relating to these assets.
Both Jesmond Dene and the Banqueting Hall are held on charitable trusts. This means that these assets do not belong to the Council. Instead the Council holds these assets as a charity trustee for particular charitable purposes. These charitable purposes were decided by Lord Armstrong, as the original donor of these assets, over a hundred years ago.
Lord Armstrong said that Jesmond Dene Park must be used as a park and recreation ground. He also said that the Banqueting Hall must be used for lectures, recitals, concerts, banquets and meetings (particularly connected with the arts, literature, science or education) and pursuits or gatherings appropriate to a public park.
The Council as the charity trustee of these assets wants to ensure that Lord Armstrong's wishes are observed in a way that continues to be relevant to how the public wishes to enjoy the park today. However, as you may be aware, over some years the Banqueting Hall has fallen into disrepair.
Application to Charity Commission
The Council has asked the Charity Commission for permission to formally release the specific charitable functions that currently only apply to the Banqueting Hall and formally extend them to all of Jesmond Dene.
Our decision to approach the Charity Commission has been made having carefully considered consultation responses and concerns raised toward the end of 2018. The Charity Commission will consider this matter before making its decision as to whether to support the Council’s decision as trustee. The Charity Commission has asked the Council to post a Form of Notice which can be viewed here.
Read more about it…
- General Public Questions + Answers - July 2018
- Public Feedback on Community Representation - July 2018
- Public Presentation (Governance) - July 2018
- Articles of Association – July 2018 (pdf, 228kb)
- Draft Terms of Reference – Community Representation Group – July 2018 (pdf, 68kb)
- Cabinet Report - 20 November 2017 and Background Paper
- Parks public feedback slides from February 2018 (pdf, 778kb)
- Parks public feedback Q&A from Feb 2018 (pdf, 80kb)
- Supplemental slides February 2018 (pdf, 192kb)
- Cabinet Report - 17 July 2017
- Parks Consultation Report 2017 (pdf, 3.55mb)
- Project scope - parks (pdf, 15kb)
- Communities and Local Government Committee - Public parks Report (January 2017)
- Government Response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Report: The Future of Public Parks (September 2017)