Parklife: a hint of the countryside
Newcomers to CPRE might be surprised to know that we have a group in the capital – not a place you’d necessarily associate with our countryside. But its many parks and open spaces provide green oases and opportunities for contact with nature, as Anna Taylor, director of CPRE London, explains.
London is a relatively green city. In fact, almost half of Greater London is green and its parks and green spaces are the vital lungs of the city.
They provide opportunities for Londoners to connect with the countryside: to breathe fresh(er) air, interact with nature, and take time out from the bustle of city life. That is why CPRE London champions the capital’s parks: drawing attention to the pleasures they provide, the communities that care for them and bring them to life – and the pressure on these green spaces.
Alongside this, we have been promoting the improvement of parks for the benefit of people and nature. And we are keen to see the creation of new ones in areas where existing green space has become neglected and threatened by development.
Promoting green spaces with GoParksLondon
GoParksLondon is a campaign to promote London’s green spaces and the park friends’ groups who give their time to protect, enhance and promote the city’s parks and their surrounding communities. These dedicated groups celebrate their local parks’ heritage and culture, help local authorities look after the site, fundraise for improvements, run events and activities or campaign for their protection.
We have led the highly successful GoParksLondon project for three years, in partnership with community and environmental organisations. As part of this, we have mapped and created listings for over 4,000 London parks and green spaces. The parks now feature on an interactive online map, arranged by borough for convenience.
More than 250 park friends groups have helped us create detailed listings for each park, and in 13 boroughs we’re helping local friends promote their parks, groups, and the social and volunteering opportunities, from nature walks to volunteering days. We send out a regular bulletin for the London Friends of Green Spaces Network and organise meetings and events that are open to around 900 London park friends groups.
On the GoParksLondon website, parks have their own pages with photos, facilities information, insightful nature notes, historical gems from the London Gardens Trust and sign-up links to become part of the friends’ groups. There are over 250 of these, and new friends’ groups register with the site every day.
Our partners include the London Friends of Green Spaces Network, Greenspace Information for Greater London, Parks for London, the London Parks and Gardens Trust and the London National Park City (generously supported by the City Bridge Trust, the GLA and more recently the National Lottery).
Turning forgotten sites into new parks
We think GoParksLondon is an integral step towards spreading awareness of London’s many natural gems and creating a city with #GreenSpace4All. But London has just half the green space it needs for a population its size. CPRE London’s Ten New Parks campaign works with local communities to turn forgotten, undervalued sites into new parks.
These local campaigning groups are giving a voice to forgotten open spaces that are sitting idle or are at risk of development. The River Roding Trust is campaigning to transform post-industrial, derelict wetlands into a new riverside park, The Edgelands, that will connect Epping Forest with the River Thames. The Brent River & Canal Society is urging the council to grant Warren Farm nature reserve status. And the Friends of Quaggy Playing Fields are developing a campaign to keep the Quaggy River Playing Fields safe from developers, ensuring that these fields continue to serve surrounding communities as a space for recreation and relaxation.
The inspiring stories of these spaces are strengthening national support for the natural and cultural heritage of our capital – and we hope they will inspire park lovers elsewhere in the country.
Are you in London and feel frustrated at seeing a green space near you neglected, derelict or simply not used? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to see if it could become one of our Ten New Parks. And if you’re in an urban area, dreaming of the countryside, do check out what your local park has to offer.