Who is 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.
Urban Green Newcastle is deeply indebted to everyone that has given up their time and energy to support the parks and allotments, and wants to build upon this and find new ways of working with supporters.
As outlined in our Articles of Association, the rules that govern how we operate, Urban Green Newcastle will form a community representation group, and continue to hold regular meetings for the chairs of all constituted parks groups, to provide updates, discuss strategic issues going forwards, and explore how we can best work together.
Part of the community representation group’s role will be to offer advice to Trustees on how best to engage with the wider community and consult most effectively, helping us make better decisions.
All staff, including the Chief Executive and Directors, have attended numerous meetings and events hosted by Friends of groups, volunteers, the Parks Forum and others, demonstrating a genuine commitment to listen and involve as wide a range of stakeholders as possible.
Even some of the internal policies and processes for the organisation are being drafted through a process of consultation with external stakeholders.
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 will be setting up park action groups so park users and stakeholders can work with us and help identify challenges and opportunities.
Work has also recently started on a review of Urban Green Newcastle’s volunteering offer, with the intention of broadening its appeal, and encouraging many more people to become actively involved in the operation of the parks and allotments. In addition, new and creative ways of managing the parks are being explored, including opportunities for social enterprise.
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.
We also welcome feedback via our website and our social media platforms.
Our doors are always open to anyone that wants to contribute to the future of our parks and allotments.
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, James Cross - former Chief Executive of Natural England, the Government's environmental advisor and regulator responsible for the creation of the National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Nature Reserves. It has a staff of 30, 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.
Managing Newcastle's parks and allotments
How much green space is there in Newcastle's parks and allotments?
Newcastle’s 33 parks cover 400ha and more than 60 allotment sites cover 50ha - that’s the equivalent to 765 football pitches.
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.
I'd like to volunteer, who should I contact?
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.
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?
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.
Our activities and campaigns
How do I find out about Newcastle's proposed National Park City campaign?
London was crowned the world’s first National Park City in July 2019 following a six year campaign that saw its residents and businesses commit to make the capital a city where people, places and nature are better connected.
The city of Newcastle is currently exploring whether it should launch a campaign to become the UK’s next National Park City. Urban Green Newcastle has arranged a series of consultation events with local partners, businesses in the city and members of the public, to discuss what the campaign might look like and what it could achieve.