Millions now without nearby park, playground or green space.

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.”


Editors Notes:

  • Fields in Trust champions and supports our parks and green spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity. Because once lost, they are lost forever. Fields in Trust is an independent charity with over 90 years’ experience protecting parks and green spaces. We work with landowners, community groups and policymakers to champion the value of our parks and green spaces to achieve better protection for their future at both the local and national level.
  • The Green Space Index Score is Fields in Trust’s own unique measure of green space provision and simply indicates how close a region is to the recommended minimum provision of parks, play facilities and outdoor sport per 1,000 people. This is based on benchmark guidelines set out in Fields in Trust’s Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play publication. The minimum level is represented as ‘1’.
  • Fields in Trust’s research report Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces: Measuring the Economic and Wellbeing Value to individuals, provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces in the UK as well as valuing improvements in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use. This is the first research study on parks and green spaces to use welfare weighting methodology, allowing for more informed evidence-based policy decisions. Our primary survey used a UK-wide representative sample of over 4,000 adult residents.
  • More information is available from the Fields in Trust website


  • The Association of Play Industries (API) is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing.
  • Founded in 1984, the API represents 85% of the play industry.
  • The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing Sports and Play Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries.

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Media Contact: Mary Lubrano e: [email protected] t: 07999 550452