MPs urge action on neglected city parks

Government should do more to stop the degradation of urban green spaces, which are losing out to the needs of housing and business, a parliamentary committee has said.

The Department for Communities could not tell the MPs whether the amount of urban green space in Britain was shrinking or growing, they said in the Enhancing Urban Green Spaces report.

As for the quality of existing green spaces, it has improved since a 1999 report found them to be in ‘general decline’ – but deprived areas have missed out on the improvements and are still plagued by rundown parks and greens that do more harm than good, the Commons public accounts committee said.

One in six urban local authorities is experiencing a decline in the quality of green space, it said.

The MPs recommended a new “green space database” to keep track of the total amount and distribution of public green space in England, paying particular attention to deprived areas.

“Good quality green space enhances the quality of urban life and contributes to wider Government objectives such as improved health, more sustainable neighbourhood renewal and better community cohesion, especially in more deprived communities.

“Neglected parks attract anti-social behaviour and have the potential to undermine regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods,” the MPs said.

In the absence of adequate data, the committee was forced to work with 2001 figures that did not distinguish between agricultural green space, parks and children’s play areas. The MPs feared England may be losing green space without the responsible bodies being aware of the situation.

“The pressure for additional housing and businesses in towns and cities makes existing urban green space attractive as potential development sites. The Department was unable to tell us whether the amount of publicly accessible green space is shrinking or growing,” the MPs said.

In producing the report MPs looked at the work of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the environmental regeneration organisation <a href=""Groundwork UK, as well as that of the Department for Communities.

Goska Romanowicz

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