Liverpool makes landmark pledge to protect all of its parks
Liverpool City Council has announced that all of the city’s parks are to be protected forever.
The city’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, is set to make the plans official at Cabinet (Friday 19 March) which will see the protection of 100 much-loved parks and green spaces, totalling 1,039 hectares.
In a unique partnership with the charity Fields in Trust, Liverpool City Council will become the first local authority to adopt this vision, ensuring that the outdoor areas will not be built on or sold off, safeguarding them and ensuring a tangible legacy for local communities.
The landmark decision will also outline the ambition that every resident will live no more than a ten-minute walk from a high quality green space – this could be a beautiful park, a smaller neighbourhood green space, football pitches or play area. Any location that enables people to exercise, play or simply relax and unwind.
The announcement forms part of The Great Outdoors pledge – one of ten promises made by the city council to build a better, brighter future for all.
Through partnership work, it will secure the future of dozens of much-loved parks and green spaces across the city in a phased approach which aims to be completed by the end of 2023.
For the first phase, Fields In Trust has carried out at a thorough strategic review which has identified the spaces which have the most potential to improve physical and mental wellbeing.
As a result, 20 areas – which equates to 60 per cent of the city’s green space – will be protected in the first 12 months.
And, by the end of the process, more than 1,000 hectares of land will be protected.
Liverpool City Council will retain ownership of the green spaces and will continue to be responsible for the maintenance of all the parks.
The importance of parks and green spaces has never been highlighted more than in the past year, when they have become an essential place to exercise, relax and reflect. They have, for many people, been a safe place to meet loved ones and connect with friends and neighbours; they will continue to play an important role in the city’s recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Fields in Trust’s evaluation of Liverpool’s green space shows that there is around 25.3 square metres per person, around a quarter of the size of a six-yard box on a football pitch. 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 which will remain as green spaces forever. This is vital when 1 in 6 people in Liverpool (16 per cent) have no access to a private or shared garden. (Source: ONS)
With the population of Liverpool set to increase by 10.3 per cent 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.
In championing the UK’s green spaces Fields in Trust is calling on other local authorities to follow Liverpool’s lead, and legally protect parks and green spaces for good, ensuring the health and happiness of future generations.
Liverpool’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy 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.”
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 per cent 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.”
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.”
To read more about Liverpool’s ten pandemic pledges, visit the website.