29 Oct 2020
It’s certainly hasn’t been the year we expected, during the COVID-19 lockdown, many of our schemes in parks and green spaces have become a vital refuge and a lifeline for friends and family to gather at distance. The importance of physical and mental health has never been so important for reasons we can all relate too.
The Landscape Institute (LI) recently published a new report: Greener Recovery – Delivering a sustainable recovery from COVID-19. Calling on the UK Government to use its upcoming Autumn Statement to announce a much-needed investment in parks and green spaces.
In June 2020 The Parks Alliance (TPA) published ‘Making Parks Count’ – the business case for parks setting out why they matter and why they are a ‘smart investment’. The case illustrates how parks in England deliver over £6.6bn of health, climate change and environmental benefits each year including £2.2bn in avoided health costs alone and are worth £140 per year to each urban resident. For every £1 spent on parks in England an estimated £7 in additional value for health and wellbeing and the environment is generated. The case clearly demonstrates that parks are a smart investment. Unfortunately, because these returns have never been properly understood, parks have suffered from years of under-funding and there remain gross inequalities in access to quality green spaces across the country. Making Parks Count presents the case for turning this around. We recognise the importance of the work being done by TPA and the LI as well as others.
Research relating to how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on children’s experience with nature undertaken by Natural England shows that when children reported spending more time outside since coronavirus, 91% said that being in nature made them ‘very happy’. 70% want to spend more time outdoors with friends when things start to get back to normal.
Over the last year Southern Green has played a leading role in the investment of parks and open spaces, having designed and administered works at the following sites:
- Oxhey Activity Park, Watford - £4m
- Pearson Park, Hull - £3.2m
- North Marine Park, South Shields - £2.6m
- Garston Park, Watford - £600k
- Seaton Delaval Hall, Whitley Bay - £1m
- Hirst Park, Ashington – £2m
- The Canons, Mitcham - £4.5m (work in progress)
- Queens Gardens, Hull - £4m (starting on site in 2021)
- Belsay Hall and Gardens - £1.5m (starting on site in 2021)
- South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough - £4.8m (starting on site in 2021)
We are fortunate we have had the opportunity to play a part in refurbishing parks during the pandemic, helping to ensure that our parks and green spaces are designed to provide significant health, climate change and environmental benefits well into the future.