Sheffield’s parks could be managed by the National Trust in a pilot project aimed at preserving public green spaces.
The city council says the possibility is ‘one option’ that will be considered although the scheme is at a ‘very early stage’ and much consultation with parks’ Friends groups and residents would be needed.
Trust officials hope to create an endowment investment fund which would generate enough income to maintain the city’s network of 70 parks and green spaces – and then roll it out nationwide.
It is the same funding model that the country’s biggest landowner has used to conserve historic houses and gardens in the past.
The council says Sheffield’s parks service has faced a £4 million cut in the last three years and the loss of one in every three parks related jobs.
A spokesman added: “The city’s 70 parks are therefore approaching a point where further reductions could have a dramatic impact on service quality.
“The National Trust is taking an increasing interest in the nation’s urban parks and is greatly concerned about the reductions in parks spending – particularly in big cities like Sheffield.
“The Trust approached Sheffield and asked if we would co-operate with their national study looking at ways of finding new and additional sources of funding into the nation’s parks.
“Options for new funding will be considered over the summer and if any options appear viable, and the city will consult on these over the autumn period.”
Changes to park maintenance were briefly mentioned in the council’s budget documents earlier this year.
The trust has been working with the council on the concept for some time and was awarded £100,000 to develop the endowment model for Sheffield.
Peter Nixon, the National Trust’s director of conservation, has compared the plan to the ‘call to arms’ over saving country houses in the 1950s.