Green space charity, Fields in Trust is calling on the government to re-evaluate the worth of parks and green spaces, taking into consideration what they contribute to communities, not just what they cost to maintain.
In Britain, 2.7 million people already live more than a ten-minute walk away from a public park, and according to the trust, a further 170,000 people could be in the same position in the next five years as populations increase and local green spaces are used for building developments.
The charity has also highlighted that any future loss of parks and green spaces is likely to disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities who ascribe greater value to local parks.
Fields in Trust found that as a region, London has the lowest amount of green space per person, with just 18.96 square meters per head.
Therefore, the charity is calling on the Government to ensure the protection and provision of parks and green spaces for community wellbeing.
Fields in Trust has valued the physical health and mental wellbeing benefits for communities at more than £34bn a year. They found regular users of parks have fewer visits to their GP resulting in a saving to the NHS alone of £111 million; the equivalent of 3,500 nurses salaries.
Helen Griffiths, chief executive of Fields in Trust, said: ‘Parks and green spaces play a vital role in people’s health and wellbeing, and these benefits have been shown even more starkly during the really difficult times our country has faced in recent months.
‘Our local parks and green spaces have been crucial during the crisis and, just as they did 95 years ago, they will have a significant part to play in our recovery.
‘Yet our research shows that over 2.7 million people don’t have a park within a short walk of home and this number is forecast to grow over the coming years.
‘This doesn’t have to be the case and that’s why we’re calling for a national strategy to recognise their value by ensuring access to parks and green spaces are guaranteed both now and in the future in areas where they are most needed.’
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