New research from Fields in Trust released today – the Green Space Index – shows that too many people do not have easy access to parks and green spaces and that far too many of these spaces are unprotected and vulnerable to loss.
Mark Hardy, Chairman of the Association of Play Industries (API) which campaigns for investment in playgrounds and outdoor play, said: “With previous Fields in Trust research highlighting the clear physical and mental benefits of regular use of these spaces, this latest report is concerning.
“Despite the fact that we face an obesity epidemic among adults and children, as well as rising levels of mental health problems, austerity measures leading to cuts in public sector spending mean that parks and play spaces are increasingly being sold off or developed.”
The API’s recent report – Nowhere To Play – revealed that by 2020/21 there will have been a decrease in spend on play facilities of 44% since 2017/18. Since 2014 local authorities have closed a total of 347 playgrounds across England with a further estimated decrease in spending on playgrounds of £25m by 2021.
“There are obvious parallels between Nowhere To Play and the Green Space Index,” said Mark. “A clear and worrying trend is emerging which shows that basic standards of provision for parks, playgrounds and green, outdoor spaces are not being met.
“Once these areas are lost they are in most cases gone for good. Fewer and fewer people are finding themselves able to easily access outdoor space for leisure time, whether that is for sport, play, exercise or social interaction.
“The likelihood is that the loss of such spaces will affect those in disadvantaged areas the most. There is evidence that parks, playgrounds and green spaces act as focal points for communities – meeting places which foster social cohesion, unity and connection.
“I hope that the Green Space Index will act as a turning point and a wake-up call to government; far from a luxury, our parks and green spaces are essential to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Urgent investment is needed to reverse the decline in parks, playgrounds and green spaces. They should be protected for current and future generations and remain an integral part of all our lives.”
Media Contact: Mary Lubrano e: [email protected] t: 07999 550452