Saturday 25th of April marks the start of World Parks Week 2020.

It's a time of reflection, celebration and inclusion.

  • Reflection of the intrinsic value of the nature found in our parks and the positive contribution it makes to our health and wellbeing.
  • Celebration of the joy of being outdoors in a park, free of the walls and ceilings which normally enclose our lives.
  • Inclusion because parks are for everyone, places where we can be together with friends, with strangers and with nature.

Sadly 2020 is one year where park visits will be brief, for exercise and wellbeing only, and where physical distancing will be essential. The coronavirus has shown us how much we value parks and highlighted that more outdoor space is needed.

Overall, the UK population lives at an average of 257 people per km2, or around half a hectare per person. London is understandably the UK's most densely populated region with 4,726 people per km2. That's ten times more than the UK's second densist region, the North West, with 484 per km2.

Density graph (c) University of the West of England

Natural England's Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt) provides a detailed guide as to what constitutes accessible green space. It says everyone should have accessible natural green space:

  • at least two hectares in size (about two football pitches), no more than 300m (five minutes’ walk) from home
  • at least one accessible 20 hectare site within 2km of home
  • one accessible 100 hectare site within 5km of home
  • one accessible 500 hectare site within 10km of home

ANGSt also recommends a minimum of one hectare of statutory local nature reserves per thousand people. 1 km² = 100 hectares

Our #BigGreenLondonMap lists some 3000+ parks and open spaces to help you find your nearest space.

The conundrum facing planners is how to create more green space while also building more housing, all within the confines of the green belt. One solution has been highlighted by the Centre for London. Their researchers calculated on-street parking takes up more than 14km2 of space, equivalent to 10 Hyde Parks. Adopting active travel and improving public transport could free up a lot of space for pocket parks and green corridors. Other options include sky gardens in tower blocks and living roofs or even underground gardens using disused tunnels and artificial lighting.

We'd welcome your ideas for future parks or ways we can squeeze more greenspace in to London. Share your thoughts with us on our Twitter page or share images via Instagram. Please include one of the hashtags shown below in your post.

#WorldParksWeek April 25 to May 3 #NatureNeverCloses

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