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Green Flag Award Criteria

Green Flag Award® applications are judged against eight key criteria. Where certain criteria are not met, applicants can provide justifications that may be taken into account. What's more, if management practice changes are in progress but not yet fully implemented, transitional phases will be acknowledged and viewed positively.

The judging criteria also considers the fact that each park/green space will offer different kinds of facilities, and will be managed and developed to varying opportunities and constraints. Innovation and the way facilities offered are tailored to the needs of the community will also be taken into account.

Eight key criteria

1. A Welcoming Place

When approaching or entering the park/green space, the overall impression for any member of the community - regardless of the purpose of their visit - should be positive and inviting. There should be:

  • Good and safe access
  • Good signage to and in the park/green space
  • Equal access for all members of the community

2. Healthy, Safe and Secure

The park/green space must be a healthy, safe and secure place for all members of the community to use. Any issues that have come to light must be addressed in the management plan and implemented on the ground. New issues that arise must be addressed promptly and appropriately:

  • Equipment and facilities must be safe to use
  • It must be a secure place for all members of the community to use or traverse
  • Dog fouling must be adequately addressed
  • Health and safety policies should be in place, in practice and regularly reviewed
  • Toilets, drinking water, first aid, public telephones and emergency equipment where relevant (e.g. life belts by water) should be available in or near the park/green space, and be clearly signposted

3. Clean and Well Maintained

For aesthetic as well as health and safety reasons, issues of cleanliness and maintenance must be adequately addressed, in particular:

  • Litter and other waste management
  • The maintenance of grounds, buildings, equipment and other features
  • A policy on litter, vandalism and maintenance should be in place, in practice and regularly reviewed

4. Sustainability

Methods used in maintaining the park/green space and its facilities should be environmentally sound, relying on best practices available according to current knowledge. Management should be aware of the range of techniques available to them, and demonstrate that informed choices have been made and are regularly reviewed. Parks/green spaces should:

  • Have an environmental policy or charter and management strategy in place, which is in practice and regularly reviewed
  • Minimise and justify pesticide use
  • Eliminate horticultural peat use
  • Recycle waste plant material
  • Demonstrate high horticultural and arboricultural standards
  • Have energy conservation, pollution reduction, waste recycling, and resource conservation measures

5. Conservation and Heritage

Particular attention should be paid to the conservation and appropriate management of:

  • Natural features, wildlife and fauna
  • Landscapes
  • Buildings and structural features
  • These should serve their function well without placing undue pressure on the surrounding environment

6. Community Involvement

The park/green space management should actively pursue the involvement of members of the community who represent as many park/green space user groups as possible. The following should be demonstrated:

  • Knowledge of user community and levels and patterns of use
  • Evidence of community involvement in management and/or developments and results achieved
  • Appropriate levels of provision of recreational facilities for all sectors of the community

7. Marketing

  • A marketing strategy should be in place, which is in practice and regularly reviewed
  • There should be good provision of information to users, e.g. about management strategies, activities, features, ways to get involved
  • The park/green space should be promoted as a community resource

8. Management

  • A management plan or strategy should be in place
  • This should clearly and adequately address all of the above criteria and any other relevant aspects of the park/green space's management
  • The plan must be actively implemented and regularly reviewed
  • A financially sound management of the park/green space must also be demonstrated