Commenting on the Fabian Society's 'Green Places' report, Graham Duxbury, Groundwork UK chief executive, said:
“Ensuring more people have more access to good quality parks and green spaces close to where they live is fundamental to maintaining and improving quality of life in our communities. Yet we know there’s a social divide in who can access the benefits provided by green infrastructure. A recent YouGov survey showed that young people from lower income families are twice as likely as those from higher income families to say they never use their local park.
“At the same time local authorities are working hard to find creative solutions to austerity - driving efficiencies, generating private revenue and supporting communities to take on green space assets. The risk is that those green spaces that matter most to people – small, informal, neighbourhood parks – see a decline in number and quality. The agreement of devolution deals offers a real prospect for addressing these issues. Green spaces matter for lots of reasons – they keep us well, attract investment and make places more resilient to extreme weather. Managed in an integrated fashion they can help reduce demand for health services, create jobs and reduce insurance costs.
“Elected mayors and city-region leaders now have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to lead from the front, ensuring green infrastructure is integrated in other strategic investment programmes such as transport and housing and supporting parks and green spaces as a vehicle for delivering devolved neighbourhood services through pooled public budgets.”