Find answers to your frequently asked questions about Urban Green Newcastle and the work we do.
Who are Urban Green Newcastle?
Urban Green Newcastle is an independent charity responsible for the management, maintenance, restoration, development and protection of 33 parks and more than 60 allotment sites in Newcastle upon Tyne.
One of the first organisations of our kind in the country, we represent a new approach to securing the future of green spaces.
Why was Urban Green Newcastle formed?
Spending on parks, allotments and green spaces across the country had hit an all time low. In Newcastle upon Tyne, Council spending reduced by 90% over seven years. It was clear a new approach was needed to secure the future of Newcastle’s open spaces.
Newcastle City Council, working in partnership with National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund, carried out an extensive consultation exercise and developed an outline business plan for a new independent charity to manage, maintain, restore, develop and protect the city’s parks and allotments.
Urban Green Newcastle was formed in April 2019.
What does Urban Green Newcastle do?
We breathe life into Newcastle’s parks and allotments, connect people to nature, and improve the health and wellbeing of all families and communities in Newcastle by providing safe and well maintained parks and allotments.
- Help more people from a wide range of backgrounds to enjoy our beautiful and vibrant open spaces, which will always be free to access and enjoy.
- Invest to ensure our parks and allotments are safe and welcoming, that they are clean and well maintained open spaces.
- Deliver exciting events, including arts, cultural and educational activities; as well as opportunities for sport, exercise and play in the city’s parks and allotments.
- Encourage local people to be connected to and committed to our parks and allotments. We’ll provide opportunities for people to come together, get involved and feel proud of their green spaces.
- Ensure our wide range of trusted partners continue to value our parks and allotments and are committed to helping invest in our spaces.
Our long-term targets are ambitious. Working with the people of Newcastle we will:
- Increase annual visitor numbers across by improving and enhancing the visitor experience.
- Increase the number of trees on our estate.
- Boost the number of volunteering hours in our parks and allotments.
- Work toward all our parks having Green Flag awards.
- Increase the value our spaces contribute to the health and wellbeing of the people of Newcastle by proactively promoting new activities and opportunities.
- Aim to be carbon negative by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than our activities create, to positively address the climate change emergency.
How we work
What role does the local community play in shaping the work of Urban Green Newcastle?
Newcastle’s amazing parks and allotments would not have survived over the years without the hard work and dedication of many volunteers, Associations and Friends groups.
We are so grateful for all the people and groups who have given up their time and energy to support the parks and allotments, and want to build upon this and find new ways of working with supporters.
We’ve established Urban Green Connect and Urban Green Park Action to help us communicate with as many people as possible about what they want to see happening in our parks. We’re also continuing to work with our Friends of groups, volunteers, the Parks Forum and others, with a genuine commitment to listen and involve as wide a range of stakeholders as possible.
How can people engage with Urban Green Newcastle?
At the heart of the charity is our desire to work in collaboration. We want everyone with an interest in Newcastle’s parks, allotments and green spaces to be able to contribute to their future.
We have begun work to develop individual action plans for each of our 33 parks, which are being carried out in consultation with local communities. As part of the process, we have established Urban Green Park Action so park users and stakeholders can work with us and help identify challenges and opportunities.
Urban Green Newcastle staff are active within the parks and allotments they maintain every day. They are available for anyone to approach and to receive feedback / comments about the parks and allotments. You can contact us here.
Managing our parks
Why are there gates at Exhibition Park limiting vehicle access?
Electronic gates were installed by Newcastle City Council, prior to Urban Green Newcastle being created, to help manage vehicle access into the park, ensuring it remains safe for everyone.
We have worked closely with businesses in the park, and associations and groups that use the park’s facilities, to ensure those that require vehicle access can use the license plate recognition software to gain entry.
Vehicle access to the park for disabled people or people with additional access needs can be arranged in advance by contacting email@example.com
Why is there a speed limit of 9 3/4mph in Exhibition Park?
The decision on the park’s speed limit was reached as part of a broad consultation exercise that involved park users, local community groups and Friends of groups. Everyone agreed an eye catching and unusual speed limit would ensure more people noticed the speed restriction and adhered to it. It’s also a playful nod to Harry Potter. It helps keep Exhibition Park a safe and welcoming place for all park users.
How does Urban Green Newcastle manage ivy in the parks?
Our parks are home to a range of British wildlife and all work undertaken in any of our parks is done with consideration to the impact on the wildlife in the park.
We are proud that the ivy in our parks provides a home to many Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority species and those most threatened in the UK including the song thrush. The decision to cut back ivy is not taken lightly.
Ivy is only removed when absolutely necessary to allow us to conduct health and safety inspections or when it has overtaken the crown of the tree and has a detrimental effect on the health of the tree and potentially increase the risk to the public.
This is only done in well used areas and large numbers of trees with ivy covered stems will always be retained in our parks. The work is conducted by Urban Green Newcastle rangers and volunteers.
Ivy severing works take place during the winter so as not to affect nesting birds. During this process the ivy is not killed off and will be allowed to regrow up the stems of the tree.
How are Urban Green Newcastle addressing the issue of the Reigh Burn flooding?
Last reviewed 20.12.21
We are aware that there is public concern about the seasonal flooding issues of the Reigh Burn and we would like to assure you that we are taking the matter very seriously. This is a long-standing problem, going back many years. and throughout the winter of 2020/21 we have worked closely with Newcastle City Council to do all we can to tackle the issue. On the advice of the Council’s Flood Management Team, we have carried out the schemes of works which have been effective in alleviating the issue in previous years, but despite this the area has continued to flood throughout the winter. We understand that this is a problem that has become progressively difficult to manage over the last decade, as the climate has changed and we experience warmer wetter winters. Following further discussion with the council, it is clear that continuing to rely on the short-term alleviation works of previous years will no longer be effective, or ecologically appropriate.
Based on the council’s recommendations we have therefore approached the Environment Agency for their expert advice and support. They will initially lead a review of the various factors and stakeholders involved along the length of the Reigh Burn. This process will take some time to work through but we hope that, ultimately, we will find a way that all of the organisations and landowners involved can work together with the aim of finding a long-term, sustainable solution.
How does Urban Green Newcastle control rat populations in the parks?
We aim to provide the best possible facilities across our parks, however due to the urban nature and abundant food sources both outside and within parks through litter, waste and other items, Newcastle’s parks are no different to any in the country and will be home to a range of wildlife, including rats.
We do however take each report seriously, and have a Pest Control Service Level Agreement in place to look into areas where there are excessive sightings, and if necessary escalate to our service provider for advice and remedial action. (Wherever possible, we aim to avoid the use of poisons and seek alternative solutions appropriate to the setting.)
In the meantime, we are trying to encourage everyone to help out when visiting our parks by avoiding dropping litter, picking up after their dogs, taking home food waste from picnics and not leaving too much food for the birds.
How can I apply for an allotment?
We have a lot of sites across the city so they all manage their own waiting lists. They have a shared website www.newcastleallotments.co.uk where you can see which allotments would be the best fit for you and you can submit an application to any of the sites.
How can I report an issue on my allotment site?
If you’re an allotment holder and would like to report an issue you should contact your allotment association directly – if you’re unsure of who to contact for your sites please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there rules for bonfires on allotments?
Yes, we have issued a Bonfire Code of Conduct to our allotments to reduce the impact of burning on our sites.
Can I rehome an animal with you?
We aren’t currently rehoming any animals directly but often work in partnership with the RSPCA If you have a pet looking for a new home we would recommend that you contact them directly to discuss rehoming possibilities.
Why can’t I bring my dog into Pets Corner?
Dogs are not allowed in Pets Corner, with the exception of guide dogs, to reduce stress for our animals. For the same reason we also ask that you keep your dogs on lead in the areas surrounding Pets Corner..
Events and Activities
I want to hold an event in one of the parks, what should I do?
If you want to hold an event in one of our parks, we will take a few details from you about what it is you’re interested in doing, then we will be able to issue you with a license to use the land. If it’s something small you’re wanting to arrange, please fill in our Activity Application Form (for events with less than 100 people attending). If you’re event is going to have more than 100 people attending, please fill in our Event Application Form. A member of our events team will then get back to you regarding your request.
How do you monitor and restrict noise from large scale events?
We understand that noise is a concern during larger events and are working to make sure we are doing all we can to mitigate any disturbances that could be caused. During events noise levels are monitored by an independent noise management contractor who works with Newcastle City Council and our Events Team to ensure that agreed sound levels are adhered to throughout the event. We also impose an earlier finish time on all music of 10.30pm as a consideration to residents in the surrounding areas.
Who is responsible for litter and damage caused by events?
As part of our event contracts, event organisers are required to have a waste management plan in place, which includes providing adequate bins on the event site, and arranging additional collection for these and for those permanently based in the park. They are also required to litter pick the event site and perimeter during and after the event so that the site is well maintained throughout, if needed.
Any damage that is left after the event is finished will be picked up as part of our post inspection and then fully assessed by our team, and where repairs are required these are carried out at the expense of the event organiser.
Why is access to some areas of the parks restricted for events?
On occasion event organisers will need to restrict access to some areas of the park for health and safety and/or security purposes. When this is required signs will be posted at entrances to the park to inform our regular park users of the dates of the event and which accesses and areas would be affected and closed.
In all cases, we endeavour to keep all access routes and areas of the park open for as long as it is safe to do so to minimise the disruption to our park users.
Do you permit balloon and lantern releases in your parks?
Due to their impact on the natural environment and wildlife, we do not authorise the release of balloons or sky lanterns on our parks, or organise events which encourage this. We ask that people visiting our parks also refrain from releasing balloons and sky lanterns in our green spaces.
I’d like to volunteer, who should I contact?
If you’re interested in volunteering with Urban Green Newcastle, please send your full name, address and contact details to: email@example.com. If you can, please state any skills, experience or special interests, as well as any specific parks you’d like to volunteer in.
Please note that we are currently reviewing our application process, but we will reply to any volunteer enquiries as quickly as we can. As lockdown hopefully continues to ease, we are hoping to recommence more activities and events very soon. In the meantime, if you’ve not already registered to receive updates about our activities and events, you can do so by signing up to receive our newsletter and our team will be posting regular updates on our website and social media channels.
Finances and Structure
How is Urban Green Newcastle funded?
Urban Green Newcastle is an independent charity and receives funding from a variety of sources. Our annual accounts are published on the Charity Commission website. We generate our own revenue to pay for operations via fundraising, grants and commercial activities. All funds are reinvested back into the parks and allotments and we aim to be meeting our annual running costs by generating £2m each year by 2027.
How is Urban Green Newcastle structured?
Urban Green Newcastle is led by Chief Executive, Carol Pyrah. It has a staff of 50, a Board of 13 Trustees, which includes representatives from Newcastle City Council; and a Membership, appointed by the Trustees, which includes representatives from seven organisations including Newcastle City Council, University of Newcastle, National Trust, Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria University and the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
What is the role of the Trustees?
Trustees set the strategic direction of Urban Green Newcastle and, through the Chief Executive, oversee the business of the charity and ensure that its strategy is delivered.
Trustees receive no financial remuneration but can claim reasonable expenses (e.g. travel to meetings, sustenance if required). The Chair of our Trustees is Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Live Theatre in Newcastle.
Who is Urban Green Newcastle accountable to?
Urban Green Newcastle is a charitable company limited by guarantee so it must comply with statutory accounting and reporting obligations. Our Board must prepare an annual report to accompany its accounts each financial year setting out how the charity has been governed, how it has furthered its charitable objectives and what it has achieved for its beneficiaries the residents of and visitors to Newcastle upon Tyne.
This report will be available to the public through the Charity Commission’s website, Companies House website, and urbangreennewcastle.org.
Company Members act as the gatekeepers and custodians of Urban Green Newcastle. The Members are entirely separate from the Board and therefore can hold it to account for its actions. Their role is to appoint the first Auditors, and they are able to remove Trustees from the Board where necessary.
Urban Green Newcastle’s Board will establish a community representation group, which will advise the Trustees on how to ensure its activities can support all areas of the city, its residents and relevant interests.
Once a year, we will also produce a report to the City that will outline what we have done in that year and what our plans are for the year to come.
If members of the public are unhappy with anything Urban Green Newcastle has or has not done, they can raise issues through our complaints process. It is expected that Ward Councillors will engage with Urban Green Newcastle to share any ideas, concerns or raise questions on behalf of residents.