In July 2010 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £1m to the National Trust- owned Morden Hall Park to help fund a radical overhaul of the site.
The money will help pay for works on the green space surrounding the 19th-century water-mill, including installation of London's first 'Archimedean screw' - a cutting-edge hydroelectric turbine in the River Wandle. The £2.5m project will see parts of the 125-acre estate open for the first time in 130 years, as the Trust looks to convert the site into a world-leading environmental park and tourist attraction.
The park's water wheel will be fully renovated and conserved, while the stable yard will be opened for the first time in a century. It is intended to use the renovated wheel to illustrate the industrial and cultural heritage of the Wandle, while the new hydroelectric turbine will stand as an example of the latest in sustainable technology.
In October the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) announced that an award of £3.8m grant to restore Lordship Recreation Ground in Haringey. The award is given under under the Parks for People scheme.
The 23ha park, known by locals as The Rec, opened to the public in 1932 and is one of the few open spaces serving a densely populated inner urban area that includes the Broadwater Farm Estate.
HLF/BIG's support will enable the extensive woodland and flower beds to be properly maintained and the model traffic area, Shell Theatre and River Moselle to be restored.
Training for staff will include mentoring volunteers and improving their horticultural skills, involving the local community in the maintenance of their park.
A new environment centre will be an exemplar low-energy building, constructed with natural, robust materials to house a new café and community facilities.
The money will also be used for:
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "This is cracking news for users of Lordship Rec. Local people should feel proud to have kickstarted this funding success, having beaten off stiff competition to secure an initial £400,000 from City Hall in a public vote. Parks such as this are a vital element of our city helping to enhance quality of life for people in search of a tranquil haven."
Further support for the Lordship Rec comes from Haringey Council, who will be contributing over £3m in capital and running costs, with a further £400,000 from the Mayor of London's Help a London Park Scheme and £300,000 from the Environment Agency.
In September it was announced that Walthamstow's William Morris Gallery was being granted £1.5m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Home to the family of William Morris from 1848 to 1856, the Gallery is devoted to England's greatest designer and houses superb collections illustrating Morris's life, achievements and continuing influence, including woven and printed fabrics, ceramics, wallpaper, furniture and his political works.
This HLF award - matched by £1.5m from Waltham Forest Council - will go towards a refurbishment and extension of the much-loved building, providing more exhibition space, a new tearoom, a learning centre with school space, library and meeting room, all of which should serve to bring the gallery's collections to life and provide an invaluable resource for generations to come.
Increasingly, heritage groups are keen to restore a historic house and its grounds within the same context as part of an overall conservation plan. The announcement of the William Morris Gallery grant was in keeping with this thinking. At the start of the year the HLF and BIG announced a £3.48m grant for Walthamstow's Lloyd and Aveling Park, - part of William Morris's childhood home, under the Parks for People programme.
Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund's London Committee, said at the time:
"These bold development plans will enhance all the existing amenities but also restore the amazing medieval moat and island, create a series of well-maintained and themed garden areas and reconnect the historic country mansion which was William Morris's childhood home - for which the Council has exciting plans - with its historic landscape."
Valentine House and Park in east London is another example of a restoration plan which encompassed both an historic house and its grounds.
In the context of this story, it was disappointing to learn that Enfield council has decided to cancel plans to obtain a £500,000 grant to restore Forty Hall's 147-acre park. The decision was taken in July, in order to save the £2m which the council was to invest from its own funds.
Forty Hall itself received a restoration grant from the Heritage Lottery grant of £1.8m in March, with additional funding of £2.8m from the council for a year-long restoration to its original 17th century layout. This is now underway.
Andrew Newman, chairman of the Friends of Forty Hall Park, told the local paper, the Enfield Independent that the move to cancel plans to restore the park was "quite short-sighted" and "disheartening." He said:
"We had an opportunity which doesn't come around very often. I just hope it doesn't mean the park goes to rot as it has done before. The garden is in a state of decay - nobody has touched it for 200 years. We had done a lot of work on it, we were through to the second stage of the bid, we had all been involved in the hours of consultation; so it is also rather disheartening."
Finance cabinet member Andrew Stafford said: "We just don't have the money - and I am not sure that having a working Jacobean farm at a place that is not easily accessible is a good use of £2m."
In August the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)'s Board of Trustees announced changes to help support major transformational projects (HLF grants of £5m and over). These were to increase HLF's allocation for major projects from £20m pa to £30m pa from 2011 onwards, and allow flexibility in second-round deadlines, so that applicants can work to their own timetables.
In November the HLF announced a second round of changes to its procedures in response to the economic challenges facing potential and current grant applicants. The November changes focus on reducing 'match-funding' requirements.
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said the HLF wanted to help applicants in tough times and was responding to economic challenges facing potential and current applicants. She said:"This is our second set of measures to help organisations cope with the current and forthcoming economic challenges. There will be more money on offer for applicants who are finding it hard to raise funds elsewhere and new ways of protecting HLF's past investment.
"We will be working even more closely with partners to ensure the UK's heritage does not suffer unduly during these difficult times. We know heritage has a valuable role to play in helping the economy back onto its feet, As well as helping new applicants, any proje t already underway which is facing difficulties as a result of the current economic conditions should contact their case officer, as we want to help."
The match-funding requirement for requests of more than £1m have been cut from 25 per cent of the project costs to 10 per cent, and "HLF will be able to make up all of the remainder".
For grant requests of less than £1m, the minimum match-funding requirement has been reduced from 10 to five per cent of total costs. Similar changes have been made for joint programmes, such as Parks for People, run with the Big Lottery Fund, with the same percentage drops for big and small requests. Other changes include allowing applicants to count management and upkeep plans, which must accompany larger requests, as a contribution to match-funding.
HLF continues to look at other ways it can assist with the challenges facing the heritage sector following the recent Comprehensive Spending Review and will be making decisions on future funding priorities over the coming months.