The Landscape Institute (LI) has today published a new report which urges the government to invest in parks and green spaces as part of its Autumn Statement. ‘Greener Recovery – Delivering a sustainable recovery from COVID-19’ calls for a major shift from grey to green development.
The Scottish government has already announced a significant investment in new green development. Without a bold step change, the UK is in danger of defaulting to ‘business as usual’, says the LI. It supports calls for the investment of £1bn per year for the next five years into parks and green spaces across the UK, seizing this once-in-a-generation chance to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, revitalise the economy, and create new jobs.
The LI insists that public money should not fund unsustainable, unhealthy, poorly designed spaces. The new report calls for ‘shovel-worthy’, not just ‘shovel-ready’ projects, delivered in ways that address climate change, prioritise communities most in need, and improve our quality of life.
Jane Findlay, president of the Landscape Institute says: “Lockdown has…starkly highlighted the huge inequality of access. One in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden. In England, black people are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no access to outdoor space at home.
“Yet the investment in our parks and green spaces has been shockingly poor, with falls in both maintenance and developer contributions in the last six years. There is no shortage of evidence that we are missing health and wellness benefits from underperforming parks. We can no longer afford to stand by and let this continue.”
As well as addressing funding and access to parks, the report tackles issues relating to the proposed new planning rules – and raises several concerns that the LI’s members have encountered for decades.
Jane continues: “Today’s report highlights the enormous benefits even a modest reallocation of the money spent on grey infrastructure could bring. Recent research suggests that a £5.5bn investment in urban green infrastructure over five years would generate over £200bn of physical and mental health benefits.
“While we very much welcome the government’s announcement on infrastructure spending and streamlining planning, we believe that high environmental and social standards for all publicly funded infrastructure and large-scale housing – including targets for healthy green spaces – will create a win-win situation. It will improve communities and support economic recovery, while also tackling climate change.”