CFP were appointed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to produce a comprehensive project evaluation report for Burslem Park that was focused on, but not exclusively restricted to, the 5 outcomes of the Parks for People programme (under SP3). CFP also produced a 4 page executive summary which has been used by the council to design and publish a ‘glossy’ project summary as a promotional tool for distribution to councillors, park visitors, local community members, and other interested parties as a well as a single page infographic.
CFP analysed, reviewed and summarised the main results of all baseline and monitoring data gathered for the project by the Council, lead and facilitated a series of focused discussion groups with key stakeholders and gathered, analysed and summarised appropriate evidence about the wider regeneration and economic benefits of the project in the local area. This included a review of the effect of the project on house prices, economic calculations regarding jobs created and volunteer time generated and new investment that was attracted to the local area.
CFP worked to reflect on the project as a ‘story’ with a narrative description that celebrates what had been achieved, and the impact the project has had on the park as a heritage asset, its visitors, volunteers, the local and wider community, and the Council. In a period of considerable challenges in terms of pressures on council’s budgets, the evaluation enabled Stoke-on-Trent City Council to encourage wider thinking about how they approach heritage management and better demonstrate their work and its impact.
In summary, our evaluation of the Burslem Park project found that:
- Local people value the restored park and use it more and are also more appreciative of its heritage value and its role within the wider heritage regeneration of Burslem.
- Volunteers are now giving far more time than previously to the Park. By 2013 they had given over 12,000 hours of free time to the project. This is equivalent to 2 years of full-time staff work over 3 years – worth an estimated £93,000.
- Volunteers themselves are notably satisfied with the opportunities that new Park initiatives have given them. Typical quotes from volunteers include “It’s given me a new lease of life,” and “All the volunteers are fantastic. It’s great to work as a team where you get on with people.”
- The project team has secured additional resources to the project beyond what was required by HLF as match-funding. Council match-funding has more than doubled (206%). Volunteer match has trebled, and is still increasing. This success has resulted in an upsurge in interest in partnership working in general and specifically with regard to heritage projects in Burslem. A 2013 Heritage Summit was held as a consequence of this.
- The success of the Burslem Park project spawned a HLF Parks for People bid for Hanley Park in 2012. It secured £4.9m of funding.