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Sound financial figures create a bright future for The Parks Trust

The organisation, which looks after 4,500 acres of green space in Milton Keynes, has grown its property portfolio by £89 million and currently holds financial investments worth around £38 million.

The figures are contained in The Parks Trusts’ Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2015-16, published yesterday (Friday).

But chief executive David Foster warned that fears of another recession mean The Parks Trust must continue to look at ways to grow its asset base. 

He said: “Part of that growth has come from new endowments as we have taken on new land as the city has continued to expand and part from astute commercial management and investment over the years.

“As a result, the Trust is in pretty good financial shape but we are all too aware of what another recession could do to the Trust.”

The Trust saw the value of its assets fall by around 30% in the 2008 recession and was forced to cut its spending and put several major projects on hold. Only now are they being reactivated, said Mr Foster.

He added: “We still need to continue to grow our asset base if we are to be able to weather financial storms that may come our way in future. You have to remember we are entirely self-financing, the cost of maintaining the parks is not getting any less and we have this job to do in perpetuity. ” 

The Trust’s work is funded entirely by its commercial activity, which also includes enterprises on its parkland such as the commercial leisure activities at Willen Lake, and farming.

It spent more than £7.5 million last year on maintaining and improving its facilities.

Mr Foster said: “The success of our business model means that we have been able to spend more than ever this year looking after our parks, lakes and woodlands and are able to put plans in place to introduce new facilities into the parks and invest further in the operation of Willen Lake to make it an even better all year round attraction in the years to come.

“Most importantly, the parks, lakes and landscapes under our control are in good shape and are being well used and greatly appreciated.”

Three priorities for The Parks Trust this year are:

  • To continue to maintain the parks to a high stand and improve the biodiversity;
  • To continue to build the asset base to ensure the Trust can be financially sustainable for the long term;
  • To introduce new features and facilities in the parks.

It has put in a bid for Heritage Lottery funding for a major restoration project in the grounds of Great Linford Manor, has applied for planning permission for an adventure golf course and café at Furzton Lake and is preparing consultation on plans for Campbell Park and Willen Lake.

To download The Parks Trusts’ Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2015-15 visit: http://www.theparkstrust.com/downloads/final-2015-16-annual-report.pdf 

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