UK Landowner Calls for Long Term Investment in Public Green Spaces
National land management charity, the Land Trust has responded to the Communities and Local Government Committee’s inquiry into the future of public parks, urging Government to move beyond questioning the need for public parks and to recognize the value these spaces provide to the health and vitality of society and implement policy to support them.
Public parks are under severe threat. There is currently no legal obligation to fund and maintain public parks, so financial pressures on councils are resulting in cuts to parks maintenance budgets. Parks are used by so many people across society for a wide variety of reasons, delivering considerable benefits But the consequence of not having free and easy access to well-maintained public spaces could be detrimental, affecting all aspects of society, such as public health and wellbeing, increased long-term economic costs and social breakdown.
The recent Heritage Lottery Fund’s 2016 State of UK Public Parks report backs this up, demonstrating that parks are used regularly by over 37 million people each year, and good quality parks are helping to tackle many of society’s greatest challenges, from childhood obesity to a changing climate.
In its response, the Land Trust demonstrates that:
- Parks and green spaces are vital for people’s health and wellbeing
- Parks play important roles in contributing to society and local and national economies.
- Parks are key to ensuring our environment is resilient to the impacts of climate change
- Securing sustainable investment in parks will cost less in the long term
- Parks are well used and highly valued by people
As such the Land Trust wants Government to:
- Give parks priority by including them as part of a wider green space strategy.
- Recognise the value of parks and green spaces and secure and reallocate funding across sectors
- Support local authorities to set structures that protect parks, preventing them being marginalised.
- Support skills and development in the sector
Euan Hall, Chief Executive of the Land Trust said “We need to acknowledge the vital roles that parks and public green spaces play within communities. By establishing the policies and sustainable investment models for the long-term management of these spaces, our economy and public health and wellbeing will benefit, whilst pressures across multiple public services will ease. However, this needs central and local Government support, to put the structures and funding in place.”
(Source: the Land Trust)