Parks are an asset to communities and should not be viewed as a burden by local authorities, charity says as it launches new research findings.
New research by Fields in Trust, a charity dedicated to defending recreational spaces, suggests a positive association and statistically significant link between green space exposure and health and wellbeing.
The charity will use the newly launched Ordnance Survey green space map to monitor the pressure of development on green areas, ahead of this Thursday's conference, The Future of Public Parks: Policy, Practice and Research, at the British Academy.
The communities and local government (CLG) committee last year recommended that more work was needed to specify the real value of the contribution of green spaces to wider public agendas.
In response to this call, Fields in Trust commissioned Jump X Simetrica, a group which carries out social cost-benefit analyses, to calculate the social value of parks.
The early data suggests that proximity to, and more frequent use of, local green space produces corresponding increases in health and wellbeing scores across all four of the Office of National Statistics wellbeing indicators (life satisfaction, sense of worth, happiness and anxiety) along with general health.
‘Research helps us understand how a local park can contribute to its neighbourhood but the real value of a green space is determined by the local community who use it for play, sport and recreation,’ said Fields in Trust chief executive Helen Griffiths.
‘Each of the thousands of parks playing fields and playgrounds across the UK is valuable to the neighbourhood that it serves.
‘Fields in Trust believe we should re-value our green spaces as resources which contribute to public health, mental wellbeing and community cohesion, not simply view them as a drain on council finances for upkeep.’