Council protects parks and green spaces: Liverpool residents will be guaranteed access to park and green spaces, forever, removing the threat that any might be built on or sold off, in a new strategic partnership between green space charity Fields in Trust and Liverpool City Council. Liverpool is the first local authority to ensure local access to green space in perpetuity for all its citizens by legally protecting each of their eligible parks and green spaces.
The city council’s Cabinet, on Friday March 19th, committed to legally protect 100 much-loved parks and green spaces across the city, totalling over 1,000 hectares and sets the ambition that every resident will live no more than a ten-minute walk from a high-quality green space. Protected parks include local recreation grounds as well as well-known city centre destination parks and children’s playgrounds. (see attached) This landmark decision ensures there will always be local parks and green spaces available for current and future generations of Liverpudlians to enjoy.
Parks and green spaces have been vital over the last year as places to play, exercise, relax, reflect and the only safe place to meet loved ones and connect with friends and our neighbours; they will continue to be important as part of our recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the wider City Recovery Plan Liverpool’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon has committed to work with Fields in Trust and secure legal protection of Liverpool’s entire portfolio of green space. The decision is based on evidence of the health, wellbeing and community benefits they deliver. Councillor Simon said “Liverpool is blessed to have so many stunning green spaces, and this new initiative means we can ensure everyone has access to free, local outdoor spaces for sport, play and recreation, forever.
“The health, wellbeing and community benefits these locations deliver are priceless, demonstrated so clearly during this pandemic where they have become such a central and important part of our lives.
“And the benefits aren’t just health related. Access to green spaces improves our neighbourhoods, tackles climate change, supports education and economic growth and they frequently become the stage on which we host many of our hugely popular cultural celebrations.
“Our partnership with Fields in Trust is a ground-breaking, forward-thinking approach to protecting our parks and green spaces and we look forward to working with them to secure the future of these vital assets.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected Liverpool more severely than many parts of the UK: both in the number of cases and the rate of infection. Research conducted by Fields in Trust has demonstrated clear physical health and mental wellbeing benefits from regular use of parks and green spaces, yet these vital community assets are not equally distributed.
Fields in Trust’s evaluation of Liverpool’s green space shows that there is around 25.3 square metres per person, around a quarter the size of a six-yard box on a football pitch. Yet only four hectares of Liverpool’s parks are currently protected leaving them vulnerable to loss or building development. This new commitment will protect green spaces in every one of Liverpool’s 30 wards and guarantee they will remain as green spaces forever. This is vital when 1 in 6 people in Liverpool (16%) have no access to a private or shared garden, compared to 1 in 8 people (12%) across Britain as a whole. Additionally, the average size of Liverpudlians’ private outdoor space (144.4m2) is less than half the average across Britain (332.7m2). (Source: ONS)
Fields in Trust Chair of Trustees, Jo Barnett said: “Through the pandemic we’ve realised just how valuable parks and green spaces are to our health and wellbeing, yet across the UK only 6% of parks are protected and access to them is not equitable. We welcome this pioneering commitment by Liverpool City Council to recognise the proven physical and mental health benefits of local parks. These are valuable places; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for future generations to enjoy. Because once lost, they are lost forever.”
With the population of Liverpool set to increase by 10.3% over the next 20 years, any future loss of parks and green spaces would disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, who would be missing out on these health benefits, as well as opportunities to get out into nature, have a kickabout and connect with their neighbours.
Fields in Trust have been conducting development work in Liverpool, using an evidence-led approach to make the case to Liverpool City Council for the legal protection of their green spaces; as well as contributing to Simon O’Brien’s green space audit, becoming a partner of the Liverpool City Region Year of Environment and supporting local Friends of parks groups. At the 2019 General Election, MP for Liverpool, West Derby, Ian Byrne, along with 37 other MPs took Fields in Trust’s “Parks Protector Pledge”, committing to championing parks and green spaces within their constituencies and across the UK.
Full details of the pioneering agreement between Liverpool City Council and Fields in Trust can be found on the Fields in Trust Website www.fieldsintrust.org/liverpool
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