London is a seemingly ever-expanding, sprawl of a metropolis. Population growth has contributed to the enlargement of its urban centre, and housebuilding remains a major focus for the government. Though urbanisation continues, the need to protect green spaces and public parks across the capital is fervently felt.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has placed support for green space projects and the preservation of the city’s parks at the forefront of his agenda. The Mayor’s aim is to make London the ‘first National Park City with a target of making half the city green by 2050’. In addition to the upkeep of the eight Royal Parks, there are numerous green spaces to protect and support.
The importance of preserving and protecting such areas is realised. A government report, prepared for the Greater London Authority, National Trust and Heritage Lottery Fund reveals the economic value and health benefits Londoners derive from public parks. According to the report, the gross asset value of London’s parks amounts to around £91 billion, while for every £1 of investment spent, Londoners get £27 in value back. Another astonishing statistic is the value public parks play in saving on health costs to the NHS. Parks and open areas are invaluable for the opportunities they create in giving Londoners a space for exercise, recreation, socialising and relaxation. This brings mental and physical health benefits, and £950 million per year in health costs is saved due to public parks.
Londoners themselves place a value on living near to a public park due to the health benefits and enhanced wellbeing it brings, and this is reflected in the amount they are willing to spend on property near to parks. The value of public parks is appreciated by Londoners and local authorities, and studies show that proximity to public parks increases happiness and wellbeing, boosts worker productivity, and offers healthcare savings.
What is crucial going forward is the correct maintenance and management of all public parks and green spaces – from garden squares to nature reserves – to ensure they deliver true value for Londoners.
Adequate funding, however, is an issue. According to a House of Commons report, which accessed the state of public parks across the UK, budgets for parks have fallen across the UK (Communities and Local Government Committee, 2017). For parks to continue to provide real value, it is vital that funding does not drop further.
The value of public parks in the London Borough of Merton
In terms of total area, 3,800 hectares of land in the London Borough of Merton is given over to public green spaces. Wimbledon Common, covering over 400 hectares, is ideal for walking, running, cycling, horse riding and golfing. Wimbledon Park is also in the vicinity, while Cannizaro Park boasts landscaped formal gardens, rare trees, lakes and woodland.
There are many public parks to enjoy if you’re based in or near Wimbledon, or if you’re planning to move to Wimbledon. Find out more about the London Borough of Merton’s parks and recreation grounds.