People are passionate about parks

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It’s no surprise to find that people in Milton Keynes are passionate about their parks but staff at The Parks Trust were delighted when market research showed just how much people love their greenery here.

One resident even went so far as to say “They’re lovely places to go – Milton Keynes’ biggest strength.”

The Parks Trust commissioned the market research to find out how people use their parkland, what they feel about it and what they would like to see improved or different about it.

The research showed that 94 per cent of people questioned think that their parks are well maintained; nine out of ten said that they valued them and 60 per cent were able to name an inspirational park.

The most inspirational park was Willen Lake North, followed by Willen Lake South, Campbell Park, Furzton Lake and Caldecotte Lake. Over half of respondents, 56 per cent, visit a park at least once a week. The main reasons were for walking (31 per cent), a family outing (20 per cent), walking the dog (17 per cent) or visiting a children’s play area (nine per cent). Other popular reasons were cycling, running or attending an event.

Three out of ten have experienced a “special moment” in a park, including celebrating a milestone birthday, going on a date, making a life-changing decision, falling in love, and proposing to someone or accepting a proposal.

David Foster, Chief Executive of The Parks Trust, said: “The Trust is celebrating 20 years of caring for the parks so it’s really encouraging to know that people value them and think they are well looked after. We invest almost £5 million a year in them and this is all funded through our commercial property and investments – making the parks completely free for residents and visitors to use.”

The survey also revealed that people would like to see more dog bins, litter bins and toilets, as well as more maps and information about the parks on signage.

David continued: “It’s very helpful to see people’s suggestions and some of them are already being addressed. We’re installing new signage which includes maps and information about what you can see and do in our parks and we actively work with parish councils who wish to put in dog bins. As a self-financing charity all our expenditure has to be carefully considered for its total benefits to enhancing and maintaining the parks and we have long term plans to introduce new features and facilities that meet the needs and aspirations of residents and visitors.”

The research was undertaken by Stony Stratford based market research company, Start Up Research. They held focus groups, conducted face to face interviews with 613 Milton Keynes’ residents in parks and in locations around Milton Keynes and analysed responses from 122 people who completed an online survey. Further technical information on the research can be obtained from chris.brookes@start-up-research.co.uk.