The Parks Agency was set up in 2002 by its directors, Stewart Harding and David Lambert, who have worked together for more than twenty-five years to save parks from development, protect them through the planning system and to improve them through various grant schemes and other initiatives.
The Parks Agency’s work since then has encompassed research and development for local authorities and national bodies such as CABE Space, English Heritage, the National Trust and Natural England. We undertake historic landscape research, consultancy on public park management, conservation planning, as well as expert advice, mentoring and monitoring for the Heritage Lottery Fund. Both Stewart and David lecture and publish widely. Our experience means that we are prepared to help with anything you can come up with!
Stewart Harding, BA (Hons), PhD
Stewart has extensive experience in all aspects of the management, improvement, promotion and evaluation of parks, gardens and open spaces and is an acknowledged national expert in the field (full curriculum vitae). He has written and lectured extensively on topics relating to the restoration of historic designed landscapes (Publications).
During his undergraduate studies as a mature student at Bristol Polytechnic, Stewart set up the Stoke Park Restoration Trust to curtail proposed development of the 18th century Thomas Wright landscape and to restore the lake, gates and memorials. After receiving a first class honours degree he developed a unique action-research methodology for his PhD in the conservation of historic landscapes attached to former asylums and hospitals. During this period he ran the Avon County Council historic parks and gardens survey and became Conservation Officer for the Avon Gardens Trust and, later, its Chairman. He also gained a distinction in a Planning Law course at Bristol Poly and went on to complete the University of the West of England’s first doctorate.
In 1990 he took over the Countryside Commission’s Task Force Trees grant scheme for historic parks and gardens in the south west, awarding grants to 50 sites including The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Trebah in Cornwall, Hestercombe in Somerset, Ashton Court in Bristol and Royal Victoria Park in Bath.
Stewart was seconded to the Heritage Lottery Fund to establish and run its Urban Parks Programme from 1996 to 2000 which awarded £185 million to 200 public parks. On completing his secondment he set up the Country Parks renaissance for the Countryside Agency, pioneering the first country park restoration with HLF funding at Lydiard Park in Wiltshire and laying the foundations for further work in this area.
He established The Parks Agency with David Lambert in 2002 since when his experience includes:
- Monitoring and advising on 80 HLF park restoration projects across the UK for the Heritage Lottery Fund
- Review and analysis of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Urban Parks Programme, Public Parks Initiative and the Parks for People scheme
- Condition survey of 140 parks and open spaces for the London Borough of Hounslow
- Evaluation of the Wildspace! grant scheme for English Nature
- Evaluation of the Doorstep Greens grant programme for The Countryside Agency
- Case-study review of Doorstep Greens for the Land Restoration Trust
- Helping CABE Space to test and refine Spaceshaper – a method for communities to assess the quality of their parks and open spaces
- Review of the Green Flag Award scheme with Liz Greenhalgh, David Lambert, Andrew Parsons and Ken Worpole for CABE Space
- People need Parks need People: the skills shortage in parks: research report with GreenSpace for CABE Space and Lantra.
David Lambert, MA, IHBC
David is an acknowledged expert on the conservation of historic parks and gardens. He has been influential in the development of heritage policy and is also a leading authority on researching the history of parks and gardens. (full curriculum vitae)
After a first-class degree in English from Oxford, David went on to teach briefly at Clifton College in Bristol before becoming a Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at the University of York. He then became Conservation Officer for the Garden History Society and oversaw the development of the GHS as a statutory consultee in the planning process.
In 1992, he and Hazel Conway wrote Public Prospects, one of the first reports to draw attention to the crisis in public parks, and he has been closely involved in the renaissance of urban parks over the following twenty years. He served as special adviser to three House of Commons Select Committee inquiries and is currently a member of English Heritage’s Advisory Committee and the National Trust’s Gardens Panel, as well as the advisory committees of Historic Royal Palaces and the World Monuments Fund. He is also a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
He has lectured and published widely on the subject of historic parks and gardens. His publications include The Park Keeper, Parks and Gardens: a researcher’s guide and guides to the public parks of Bristol and Weston-super-Mare. He has written a regular column in the The London Gardener for many years, and most recently he has published a guide to War Memorial Parks and Gardens for English Heritage.
He is currently a visiting lecturer and dissertation supervisor for the MSc in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Cultural Landscapes at Bath.
Recent work for the Parks Agency includes:
- A report on War Memorial Parks for English Heritage, 2014
- A vision statement for Regent’s Park, with Todd Longstaffe Gowan for the Crown Estate Paving Commissioners, 2013-14
- A public consultation and masterplan for the walled garden at Allesley Park for Coventry City Council, 2013-14
- A historic landscape report on Hascombe Court, Surrey for Tom Stuart Smith for a private client, 2013
- A contextual study and assessment of Wickford War Memorial Park for Basildon Council, 2012
- A historic landscape report on Woodcote Park in Surrey for Giles Quarme Architects and the RAC, 2012
- External advice, monitoring and mentoring over twenty HLF Parks for People projects