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Uncertain green spaces Limited funds have left London parks and green spaces.

Thursday 06 July 2017

Limited funds have left London’s parks and green spaces facing an uncertain future, a report by a London Assembly committee has said.

Park life: ensuring green spaces remain a hit with Londoners considers what measures should be taken to protect and improve the capital’s green spaces.

The London Assembly Environment Committee note that almost half of the city is classified as green space, including gardens, public parks and sports fields.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed to increasing green space in the capital, something that featured in his election manifesto (pdf). The committee said efforts need to be focused on the areas most in need, with half of London’s households more than the maximum distance of 400 metres recommended in the London Plan.

The committee also noted in the report that public sector funding for green space is falling.

“Traditionally, green spaces have been owned and managed by local authorities but cuts in funding have forced them to explore alternative forms of service delivery and income generation,” the report states.

It says that there is consensus that local authorities should be the owners of green spaces but that there is opportunity to diversify funding models by changing green space management. This could be Trust models or non-profit social enterprises, and the Greater London Authority could help local authorities by bringing together evidence and best practice”.

The committee believe volunteers will become “increasingly important” for London’s green spaces, regardless of the funding and management models that are put forward.

Park life: ensuring green spaces remain a hit with Londoners recommendations include:

  • In his environment strategy, Khan should run an accessibility audit of green space, comparing the results against the London Plan open space categorisation, stating areas of deficiency. He should also clarify his plans to increase green space in terms of quality, multi-functionality and accessibility.
  • The mayor should help local authorities develop a better understanding of the benefits, challenges and implications of alternative delivery methods.
  • The mayor should take a number of steps to promote the concept of green infrastructure at a city level by bringing together evidence on green infrastructure in a format suitable for use by planners, developers and other stakeholders. He should also appoint a green infrastructure commissioner or champion.

Leonie Cooper AM, chair of the Environment Committee, said: “It is no longer the case that we can rely on local councils alone to maintain our parks and other green spaces. The money is simply not available. They will still play a central role, but need support.”

The report, she said, encourages forward thinking to ensure London’s parks and green spaces “are not only protected but also improved”.

“We recommend that volunteers play a key role, crowdfunding is explored, and private investment is encouraged across the board. We’re calling for a team effort – with the mayor supporting the public and private sectors to work with Londoners to protect and improve our green spaces.”

 
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