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Peter Murray

 

The Society’s first talk of 2019 kicked off one of the main themes for this year – the capital’s parks and open spaces. Our thanks to Studio Egret West for hosting and to Madeleine Gohin for this report.

From Abercrombie’s 1944 Greater London Plan to Sadiq Khan’s 2019 vision of London as a “national park city”, the idea of creating a network of green spaces through London has been a recurring aspiration in the urban policy context of the city. With inputs from Jerry Unsworth, Colne Valley Regional Park, Sue Morgan, Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and Peter Massini, GLA, this evening has been about exploring the way this ambition is reflected across the London green grid.

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Peter Murray

 

The 2019 events programme is taking shape, with a range of talks, debates, schools, tours and walks currently being slotted into next year’s calendar. To make sure you know when booking opens for each of our talks, sign up for our newsletter.

There are three main themes for next year – Engineering and Infrastructure, and London’s High Streets are two, and here Peter Murray talks about the third, Parks and Open Spaces.

London is a greener city than most. Our squares, parks and green belt are sources of urban envy. Mayor Sadiq Khan has nailed his colours to the mast to make London the “greenest global city” – planting more trees in our streets as well as tackling climate change, reducing waste and cleaning the air. He is backing the idea of London as a National Park City, which will help all Londoners have free and easy access to high-quality green space – a similar aim that the London Society had in the 1930s when it pushed for the creation of the Metropolitan Green Belt.

But in spite of these positive policies, the capital’s existing parks are under threat from Government cost cutting, severely impacting on local authorities’ maintenance budgets. At the same time there is local resistance to the increasing number of events in parks, which provide valuable income but upset local residents because they restrict access, are sometimes noisy and damage planting.

So we are planning a series of talks, visits and an ideas competition around the subject of Parks and Open Spaces. We’ll be asking borough politicians about the problems facing Councils where budgets have been cut by 47% in real terms since 2010. In the past four years spending on open spaces, allowing for inflation, has fallen by 18% – with a drop of more than 10% in 2014/15 alone. Local parks should be the pride and joy of neighbourhoods, but without the money to provide sufficient love and care they soon lose their attraction.

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