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Addressing unequal access to nature, beauty and history in urban places

People looking round a brick courtyard with washing hanging out
A guided tour at the Birmingham Back to Backs | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

Looking after urban places is a core part of our strategy. Our Urban Places Programme aims to benefit people who live in UK towns and cities by helping to provide more access to nature, beauty and history.

Our work in urban places is guided by where the need is greatest, be that poor provision of quality greenspace, heritage at risk or communities facing socio-economic challenges.

Collaboration and innovation are central themes in how we work. We're constantly testing and trialling new ways to deliver our charitable purpose, thinking beyond the current places in our care and reaching out to local communities.

Priority urban places

Whilst we work all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we have focussed our urban work on five priority areas – Manchester, Plymouth, Newcastle and Gateshead, London and Birmingham. For each location, we've developed urban plans that respond to the uniqueness of each place. These plans have been developed with local partners and communities to improve access to nature, history and beauty in each place.

Exploring the temporary urban park at Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester
Exploring the temporary urban park at Castlefield Viaduct, Manchester | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Green corridors

We're aiming to create 20 green corridors by 2030. From our linear corridors at Bathampton Meadows in Bath and Divis in Belfast, to regional park ambitions in the Stour Valley Park in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, and the Changing Chalk partnership in the South Downs, every corridor is unique.

We're working directly with local communities to ensure that the corridors offer the freedom to access nature-rich outdoor space in a way that works best for them.

The Future Parks Accelerator

In 2019, we collaborated with the National Lottery Heritage Fund and – and with support from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – began a three-year, multi-million-pound partnership initiative to secure the future of the UK's urban parks and green spaces.

In the first project of its kind in the UK, eight urban areas joined forces in a pioneering programme called the Future Parks Accelerator.

We need to give parks a reboot and start thinking about them as essential elements of our communities, in the same way that we think about housing or transport.

A quote by Hilary McGradyNational Trust Director-General

By working with local authorities and their partners, the programme was designed to protect and develop natural resources in urban areas, making quality green space accessible for everyone. This has given us new ways to deliver on our charitable mission to bring nature to everyone, following in Octavia Hill’s legacy. We’re looking forward to taking what we learned with our partners to more towns and cities in the UK, and most importantly to the people who live in them.

If you’d like to find out more about our urban work please contact Duncan Laird, Head of Urban Places.

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For everyone, for ever

We protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. Find out who we are and what we stand for.

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