19 November 2013

Online park map could be ‘remedy’ for budget cuts

Online park map could be ‘remedy’ for budget cuts image

An online map of national urban green spaces could improve the quality of parks and support community involvement, a report has concluded.

Warning council budgetary pressures are likely to have a ‘major impact’ on the quality of metropolitan green spaces, think tank Policy Exchange has urged the Government to establish a freely available, web based hub of urban green areas in the UK.

parkCouncil spending on green spaces has fallen by almost 40% over the past three years in the North East.

Local authorities cuts to green space budgets have varied across the country, with spending reduced by almost 40% in the North East and 3.4% in the South East over the past three years - findings from the Park Land study suggest.

An online map of parks would allow the public to monitor the quality of local spaces and report disrepair, using crowd-sourced information from central government, councils, NGOs and communities.

A map would ensure city-dwellers had adequate access to suitable green spaces, could monitor spending of public money and support communication of innovative practices Policy Exchange said.

The think tank highlighted the success of Lewisham Council’s ‘Love Lewisham’ app, which has allowed residents to photograph and immediately report graffiti or fly-tipping waste.

‘Urban green space forms a critical part of urban life that, despite improvements in recent years, remains under-resourced and under-supported, particularly given current budget cuts,’ the report said.

‘The single most important step that can be taken to help remedy this is the provision of accurate and detailed urban green space data. Without this, efforts to improve urban green spaces and make cities more liveable will continue to be chaotic and poorly directed.’

Welcoming the call for an urban green space map, network co-ordinator at the federation of city farms and community gardens, Ian Egginton-Metters, said: ‘A common typology across the UK will help communities input their views on the quality of provision and access, and stimulate engagement.’

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