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According to research by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2017, over 37 million people in the UK regularly visit public parks. That’s more than half the population and yet the level of investment into public spaces rarely reflects their social, cultural and economic importance. It easy to take our parks for granted, but they offer a raft of benefits to those who live and work in urban areas.
You might be surprised to discover just how important green spaces really are. Here’s why Wimbledon Common, Battersea Park, Clapham Common and all of London’s parks and gardens are among the most significant features of the Capital.
Parks boost the local economy
It is tempting to think that green spaces would impede economic growth as the presence of local parks means that there is less land available for housing and commercial premises. But parks create a positive economic impact on urban communities.
Businesses are always keen to invest in areas with green spaces as these locations enable them to attract customers and the best employees. An appealing environment increases the footfall in retail areas and house buyers are willing to pay a higher price for properties which are adjacent to parks.
Parks mitigate the impact of extreme weather events
Due to climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more common in the UK. Many areas of the country are at serious risk of flooding. Unpaved ground absorbs water and so helps to alleviate the burden on urban drainage systems which are expensive to install and maintain.
Green space reduces the urban heat island effect
Towns and cities are warmer than the surrounding areas due to the density of dark surfaces, tarmac, concrete and heat sources. This is known as the urban heat island effect. Parks and judicious planting mitigate the excess heat and reduce the incidence of smog, making the locality a more pleasant place to live in the summer months.
Trees and plants create cleaner air
The trees and bushes in our parks are certainly aesthetically pleasing but also remove pollutants from the air. In urban areas, pollution increases the risk of cancer and seriously impacts the health of children, the elderly and those with respiratory issues.
Parks are at the heart of communities
Public green spaces bring communities together. They are free and open to all and so provide the perfect place for local residents and workers to come together. People of different cultures can interact, creating a greater sense of social inclusion for those who may otherwise feel marginalised. Parks also provide venues for social events including fairs, concerts, firework displays and exhibitions.
Open spaces promote play and exercise
Sedentary lifestyles are contributing to a health crisis in the UK. An obesity crisis is placing a huge burden on the NHS. It is vital that we all take more exercise, but what about those living in cities who do not enjoy the gym or cannot afford the membership fees? Public parks enable everyone to get out and about regularly and the attractive environment encourages people to keep active. Better still, parks enable children to play and to explore their environment and so play a crucial role in child development.
Parks and the environment
Many natural habitats have been lost due to increasing urbanisation. Public parks are vital to the ecosystem and support a huge variety of birds, insects and mammals. Connecting with nature has been shown to have a beneficial impact on mental health. In helping wildlife, we are also helping ourselves.
There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that public parks reduce crime rates in urban areas, particularly among younger people. Providing venues for social interaction and delivering the feel-good factor, parks ensure that the local area is a safer place to be.
There’s no doubt about it, parks, gardens and green spaces are vital to economic prosperity and quality of life. In this regard, London is truly blessed. A 2013 report commissioned by the City of London Corporation revealed that 40% of the capital is made up of publicly accessible green space. This makes London the greenest major city in Europe, and a fabulous place to live and work.
If you're looking to take advantage of the prevalence of green spaces in the capital, which typically appeals to a wide range of tenants, and would like to invest in a property to let in Wimbledon, Southfields, Putney or Wandsworth, contact our team today.