Fields in Trust is delighted to announce a new partnership with The Co-op which will result in the creation of original policy research into community access to parks and green spaces, and reflect clear synergies between the two organisations.
Fields in Trust's role to champion and support parks and green spaces by legally protecting them for future generations and The Co-op's Endangered Spaces campaign demonstrates this shared set of values. Both organisations recognise that parks and green spaces are not only much loved neighbourhood landmarks, but are also capable of generating significant benefits to the health and wellbeing, cohesion and happiness of our communities and the natural environment. We're working together because we want to ensure there is equity of access to these precious green spaces now, and in the future.
As part of our Green Spaces for Good strategy, Fields in Trust will continue an evidence-led approach to champion, support and protect those parks and green spaces which will have the greatest impact for communities that value them the most.
Parks are a universal public service ranked by more than two-thirds of people as the most important public space in their community. Their annual wellbeing value of £34.2 billion, to regular users, has been demonstrated through our research. Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces provides a robust economic valuation of parks and green spaces and valued the improvements in health and wellbeing associated with their frequent use. Yet these community assets are not equally distributed, so we initiated the Green Space Index which analyses the provision of, and access to, local parks and green spaces in Great Britain on an annual basis. The two new collaborative research studies which we are announcing today represent a continuation of this work and connect with the threads that run through the three core pillars of The Co-op's community plan, Co-operate 2022, which are Spaces, Wellbeing, Skills.
In the first study, Fields in Trust will explore the sufficiency and equitable distribution of parks and green space provision which will be subject to further pressure in parallel with population increases. In advance of the 2021 census, applying the Green Space Index methodology will illustrate how projected population changes could significantly affect the provision and access to parks and green spaces against recommended minimum benchmarks, and where, therefore, interventions to protect existing spaces would be most impactful.
In the second study with The Co-op, Fields in Trust will conduct a detailed analysis of the loss of a specific green space to determine the impact this has had on the local community. Previous research has shown that the creation of a new green space has a positive impact, with local people reporting that they feel healthier and happier as a consequence. This new study will therefore explore the outcomes that flow from the loss of a local green space from both the local authority and local community perspective to inform key policy and decision makers.
Welcoming the new partnership, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: "There is clear understanding that parks and green spaces form a vital part of social infrastructure and should therefore be revalued for their positive contribution to our neighbourhoods, not simply seen by the cost of maintenance. Our new research will explore both the equitable distribution of parks and green spaces and evaluate the real impact to the local community of losing one of these endangered spaces: once a park is lost, it is lost forever".