During what has been another unusual year for us all, The Parks Trust, have been working hard to maintain their high standards of care for the parks, lakes and woodlands in Milton Keynes.
The Trust is a self-financing charity and uses its funds in property and other financial investments to pay for the maintenance and improvement of the parks, to create new facilities and to engage the community through their events, activities and learning programmes.
During 2021, The Parks Trust began a project at Newlands, the park that links Campbell Park to Willen Lake, to create a special place of remembrance. Their operations team planted an avenue of 48 lime trees, installed 12 memorial benches and created a wildflower meadow.
The Parks Trust tree planting schemes continued throughout the year and in March, over 2,000 trees and shrubs were planted at Middleton Wood Meadow. This five-year joint project with Community Trees: MK and Broughton and Milton Keynes Parish council has been designed to enhance an area of Middleton park, improving habitats for wildlife by creating a woodland meadow. More recently, in November, The Parks Trust hosted HM Lord-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe, together with The High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, George Anson Esq and Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Mohammed Khan, plus students from Giffard Park Primary School, who each planted a tree at Middleton Wood Meadow in dedication to The Queen’s Green Canopy, celebrating the platinum jubilee.
Excitingly for The Parks Trust, at the end of June, they opened their brand-new Watersports Centre at Willen Lake. This fully accessible building is now the hub for all water-based activities as well as being home to the new café Benugo Bar & Kitchen. The improvement works included the addition of a new play area, which now completed, is the biggest free to use play ground in Milton Keynes. You can view a time lapse video of the construction of their new building on their YouTube channel.
Also, in 2021 a project commenced to restore the nineteenth century Brick Kilns at Great Linford. As these are a scheduled ancient monument with Historic England, The Parks Trust appointed specialist contractors Lang Conservation Ltd who carefully repaired the brick work and ensured the kilns were structurally sound and preserved for future generations.
In September of this year, a celebration was held to mark the end of the construction phase of the National Lottery Heritage Fund project at Great Linford Manor Park. This project has seen the ponds transformed, and many of the park’s other historical features that have deteriorated over the years, brought back to life. A new sculptural play trail is also being installed. It was co-developed with local school children who wanted to see more varied options for playing in the park. The new trail will run all the way through the park and features play objects that interpret the heritage of the park through children's eyes.
For the fifth year in a row The Parks Trust were awarded the Green Flag award for their entire network of parks. They remain the first and only organisation to win the award for a whole-city approach rather than for an individual park. It was also during 2021 that The Parks Trust set out their vision for green infrastructure in Milton Keynes in the new document, ‘Milton Keynes’ Inspirational Landscapes: Now and Forever’. As Milton Keynes expands, The Parks Trust wants to ensure all new areas of the city benefit from the same extent and quality of green space as is found in the established areas, and their plan on doing so is outlined in the document.
Having not been able to run a full events and outdoor learning programme in 2020, the Trust were pleased to have been able to run 469 events and 564 outdoor learning activities in 2021. There were a wide and varied range of events from the Reggae Festival in Campbell Park to Linford Eats at Great Linford Manor Park all with high attendance and the Trust also saw a significant growth in its uptake for outdoor learning particularly in its youth explorer and ranger sessions. The Parks Trust are looking forward to more exciting projects for 2022 and bringing even more events and activities back to MK’s parks.