Skip to content

Almost 2.8 million people in the UK live more than 10 minutes’ walk from a public park, garden or playground, a study has found.

Fields in Trust, which protects and campaigns for public green space, found that only four of Britain’s 11 regions met its ‘six-acre standard’ for providing green space.

Three-quarters of local authorities had adopted the Charity Recommendations, or equivalent guidance, in 2014. But according to research published on Wednesday, only Scotland, Wales and the South East and East of England l have respected.

Yet none of these regions was in the top five for accessibility to green spaces. Overall, 2,779,065 people in Britain, or around one in 24 people, lived more than 10 minutes from the nearest park. The worst region for accessibility to green space was Wales, where one in 13 people lived more than 10 minutes from a public park or garden.

The results come from Fields in Trust’s Green Space Index, published annually since 2019. The charity’s guidance for outdoor sports and play, first published in the 1930s, recommends a minimum of 6 acres (2.4 hectares) of accessible green space, such as parks. , public gardens, nature reserves and playgrounds – per 1,000 people.

A spokesperson for the charity said it only publishes data for large regions to avoid creating a “league table” that unfairly singles out certain areas. But cross-referencing the results with priority areas for the government’s upgrade program showed they had on average 10% less green space than the norm, the charity said.

The index revealed large disparities between regions. People in Scotland, the best-served part of Britain, had 41 square meters of public green space per person, more than double the 19 square meters available to Londoners.

However, even those who live in regions with more green spaces might find these areas comparatively more inaccessible. Figures showed around one in 17 people in Scotland lived more than 10 minutes’ walk from their nearest green space, compared to almost one in 1,000 people in London.

There were no publicly available maps or datasets of green space in Northern Ireland.

Labor MP Clive Betts, chair of the Upgrading, Housing and Communities Review Committee, called the findings timely. “I think, particularly during lockdown, the importance of green spaces and accessible green spaces close to people’s homes has been highlighted like never before,” Betts said.

Sign up for First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

The government should encourage local authorities to engage with Fields in Trust, which purchases green space to hold in trust for the people in perpetuity, Betts said.

“And the government should probably think about funding open spaces in general,” he added. “We reported as a select committee on parks and open spaces about five years ago now. I think we’re going to have to revisit that as a committee at some point because there’s generally been a lot of good words thrown around after that [but] probably not much progress since.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.