UK cities need greener new builds – and more of them

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Mike Hardman and colleagues have written in the Conversation UK about the need to prioritise green spaces in urban areas, given the huge benefits they bring to communities

Amid the growing local government bankruptcy crisis, as many as half of the local authorities in England and Wales might be forced to cut their green spaces budgets. The situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland is not much better. A survey by the Local Government Association in February 2024 found that 48% of local authorities say they plan to defund, to varying degrees, the parks and other green spaces within their areas.

England’s urban green spaces alone are estimated to provide up to £6.6 billion in benefits to the communities that use them each year. Yet using them isn’t open to everyone.

There is significant social inequality in terms of access to urban green spaces. In December 2023, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs parliamentary committee heard evidence that the most affluent 20% of urban wards have as much as five times more publicly accessible green space that the most deprived wards.

Urban green spaces have long been poorly funded and vulnerable to local government budget cuts. The question then is how to create more inclusive and sustainable green spaces in our cities.


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