500,000 volunteers helped reconstruct urban wastelands in the UK
26 April 2005

London: In less than a decade, some of Britain's worst wastelands, former chemical dumps, old quarries and industrial areas have been transformed into parks, wildlife areas, gardens and sports facilities with help from some 500,000 volunteers.

Under the Changing Places programme, volunteers across the country have assisted reconstructing 21 sites, covering more than 1,000 hectares, in the poorest and most deprived urban areas in England and Wales.

The project started when Professor John Handley of the Manchester University suggested in a 1994 report that a kind of National Trust be created for large sites with acute contamination with a brief to turn liabilities into assets.

His concern was that the amount of derelict land was increasing due to the sheer number of decaying coal mines and industrial sites. At the then rate of reclamation it would have taken 200 years to catch up.

The £22-million rehabilitation project was part of the millennium projects run by the Millennium Commission. The commission is government-created independent body that fund local community projects all over UK.

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From: The Guardian

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