Liverpool City Council has made a first-of-its-kind commitment to protect all the city's parks and green spaces in perpetuity with Fields in Trust, ensuring they can never be sold off or build on.
Liverpool is the first local authority to ensure local access to green space in perpetuity for all its citizens by legally protecting each of their eligible parks and green spaces. The pioneering strategic partnership, which was agreed at the city council's Cabinet meeting on Friday 19th March, will see 100 parks and green spaces across the city protected, covering over 1,000 hectares of land which will always remain as green spaces for sport, nature and play.
The commitment also sets an ambition that no resident in Liverpool will live more than a ten-minute walk from a high-quality green space which is protected in perpetuity. It is a landmark decision that will benefit both people and place not just for current residents but for generations to come.
Parks and green spaces have been vital over the last year as places to play, exercise, relax, reflect and to stay socially connected whilst physically distanced; they will continue to be important as part of our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Fields in Trust and Liverpool City Council will be working together to turn the commitment into reality and the city's green spaces will be protected in a series of phases. The first phase of the partnership will see 20 parks across the city secured forever, ensuring just over 64% of Liverpudlians live within a ten-minute walk of a green space for good. These will include local community parks in areas identified by our research and analysis as having the highest strategic need for protected green space provision, as well as all ten of the city's major parks. Well-known spaces which will be protected in this first phase include Stanley Park, Sefton Park, Princes Park and St John's Gardens. You can explore the full phase one portfolio here.
Croxteth Country Park
The commitment to work with Fields in Trust to secure legal protection of Liverpool's entire portfolio of green space has been made as part of the wider City Recovery Plan by Liverpool's Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon. The decision is based on evidence of the health, wellbeing and community benefits they deliver. Councillor Simon said: "Liverpool is blessed to have so many stunning green spaces, and this new initiative means we can ensure everyone has access to free, local outdoor spaces for sport, play and recreation, forever.
"The health, wellbeing and community benefits these locations deliver are priceless, demonstrated so clearly during this pandemic where they have become such a central and important part of our lives.
"And the benefits aren't just health related. Access to green spaces improves our neighbourhoods, tackles climate change, supports education and economic growth and they frequently become the stage on which we host many of our hugely popular cultural celebrations.
"Our partnership with Fields in Trust is a ground-breaking, forward-thinking approach to protecting our parks and green spaces and we look forward to working with them to secure the future of these vital assets."
"Liverpool is blessed to have so many stunning green spaces, and this new initiative means we can ensure everyone has access to free, local outdoor spaces for sport, play and recreation, forever."
Acting Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Wendy Simon
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected Liverpool more severely than many parts of the UK with a higher rate of infection than that across the rest of the country. Research conducted by Fields in Trust has demonstrated clear physical health and mental wellbeing benefits from regular use of parks and green spaces, yet these vital community assets are not equitably distributed.
Fields in Trust Chair of Trustees, Jo Barnett said: "Through the pandemic we've realised just how valuable parks and green spaces are to our health and wellbeing, yet across the UK only 6% of parks are protected and access to them is not equitable. We welcome this pioneering commitment by Liverpool City Council to recognise the proven physical and mental health benefits of local parks. These are valuable places; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for future generations to enjoy. Because once lost, they are lost forever."
The Green Space Index's evaluation of Liverpool's green space shows that there is 25.3 square metres per person - around a quarter the size of a six-yard box on a football pitch - which is lower than the national average. Yet only four hectares of Liverpool's parks are currently protected leaving them vulnerable to loss or building development. This new commitment will protect green spaces in every one of Liverpool's 30 wards and guarantee they will remain as green spaces forever. This is vital when analysis from the ONS shows as many as 1 in 6 people in Liverpool (16%) have no access to a private or shared garden, compared to 1 in 8 people (12%) across Britain as a whole. Additionally, the average size of Liverpudlians' private outdoor space (144.4m2) is less than half the average across Britain (332.7m2).
With the population of Liverpool set to increase by 10.3% over the next 20 years, any future loss of parks and green spaces would disproportionately impact the most disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, who would be missing out on these health benefits, as well as opportunities to get out into nature, have a kickabout and connect with their neighbours.
"We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for future generations to enjoy. Because once lost, they are lost forever."
Fields in Trust Chair of Trustees, Jo Barnett
Liverpool's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Highways, Councillor Sharon Connor, said: "We are the first local authority in the country to make a promise on this scale, and it's a real statement of intent highlighting how committed we are to protecting green spaces in the city.
"There are a huge number of benefits to working in partnership with Fields in Trust, but at the heart of it, we can ensure all our residents have access to our parks and in doing so improve health and wellbeing across the city."
Chrisie Byrne, Chair of Liverpool Parks Friends Forum which represents every park friends group in Liverpool, said: "We are extremely proud to have been part of this historic moment in the history of Liverpool's parks, working alongside Liverpool City Council and Fields in Trust.
"We look forward to working in partnership now and in the near future when our fantastic and diverse parks will be secured and protected in a Deed of Dedication in perpetuity for us and future generations to enjoy.
"Parks have played a huge role in people's lives for generations before us and never more so than during this pandemic we all have had to face, so now we can carry on enjoying them knowing they are safe.
"Never before has any city council in the UK secured 100 per cent of its parks this way, and we hope that other cities follow Liverpool's lead to protect theirs for their communities.
"We would like to thank Liverpool City Council, Fields in Trust and Ian Byrne MP who have all helped us to bring this to fruition."
For more information on the partnership between Fields in Trust and Liverpool City Council, detail on what protection will mean for the city's parks as well as the full list of green spaces which will be protected during the first phase you can visit our dedicated web page.