Nearly one in five people (16 per cent) say that their local park or green space is currently or has previously been under threat of being lost or built on, according to a new survey by Fields in Trust .
Nearly all (95%) agree that parks and play areas should be protected from development and 82 per cent feel so strongly that they would be motivated to campaign against a park loss. Two thirds (69%) state that the loss of parks would be detrimental to children’s development and half of respondents admitted that they would be less active if their local green space was lost.
The research found almost half of people say using their local park helps them to feel healthier (48%), with 70% of 16 to 24 year olds also feeling less stressed as a result of having access to green space. Spending quality time with the family and feeling part of a community were also identified as important. Nearly a quarter of people (24%) use their local park at least twice a week.
Fields in Trust currently safeguards over 2,500 sites; a total of 28,000 acres of land including playgrounds, playing fields, and formal and informal parkland across the UK.
As part of its work, Fields in Trust has supported practitioners since the 1930s on open space provision and design. On Thursday 5 November, the charity will launch its latest provision guide, ‘Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play: Beyond the Six Acre Standard’, at the House of Lords. The guide will act as a crucial tool for local planning authorities, developers, planners, urban designers and landscape architects in the planning and design of outdoor sport, play and informal open space.
Helen Griffiths, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, said: “These findings demonstrate to us that people really value their local green spaces, with three quarters telling us that they would feel unhappy if their local park was built on or closed tomorrow. We live in a fast-paced world and access to green space provides us all with a chance to take time-out and spend quality time being active with friends and family.
“Whilst we already protect a huge number of spaces across the country, more can be done. People often assume that their local park will always be there but this isn’t necessarily the case. The first step in getting a park protected is often for local people to actively campaign for it. Today we are encouraging people to take the first step by visiting our website to find out if their favourite local park is safe.”
Fields in Trust ambassador and former England footballer, Graeme Le Saux, said: “I was born and grew up in Jersey, where I had unlimited access to outdoor space, whether it was playing fields, parks or sand dunes. Without this, I would never have had the opportunity to have a career in football. It’s these places that cemented my interest in sport and ultimately enabled me to develop my skills.”
The most regular park users are those in the North East, with one in five visiting their local open space almost daily. This is closely followed by Londoners, where almost a third of people use their park between one to three times a week. Going for walks (62%), relaxing (31%) and walking the dog (24%), were accounted as the main reasons for people visiting their local park.
Fields in Trust’s annual awards ceremony in December celebrates the great work being done in parks and play grounds across the UK. This year, for the first time, the Fields in Trust Awards will feature a special category ‘UK’s Best Park’ that will be entirely voted for by the public. Voting is now open and everyone is invited to nominate their favourite local green space, whether that's a park, sports field, playground or something else entirely.
Fields in Trust Chief Executive Helen Griffiths said: "Our research shows that the nation's parks and green spaces are places to enjoy life experiences, with many of those surveyed saying that's where they taught their grandchildren to cycle, had their first kiss or reached a personal sporting milestone. Some people have even experienced or witnessed a marriage proposal!
“Our awards help recognise the role that our parks play in our communities, bringing people together and creating a safe outdoor environment that everyone should be entitled to. As Fields in Trust celebrates its 90th year we invite all park users to vote for their favourite green space.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Censuswide interviewed a random sample of 2,079 UK adults between 13 October 2015 and20 October 2015.
About Fields in Trust
Fields in Trust is a national charity that operates throughout the UK to safeguard recreational spaces and campaign for better statutory protection for all kinds of outdoor sites.
 Censuswide, 2,079 UK adults, 13 October 2015 to 20 October 2015.
You can also download the below infographic as a PDF file.