Southwark is among the worst parts of the UK for easy access to green space, a new report has claimed – despite most residents saying they are happy with parks in the borough, writes Kit Heren…
The report by environmental group Friends of the Earth uses Office for National Statistics and Natural England data to rank local authorities for the amount of green space – both private and public – within five minutes’ walk for residents.
The study ranks areas in five possible categories. Areas where the average garden space is less than 57 square metres per resident and average public green space within five minutes’ walk is less than nine square metres per resident fall into the lowest “E” category.
Unsurprisingly, local authorities in London and other major cities tend to have more neighbourhoods in the lower categories. Southwark is ranked eighth-lowest of all local authorities in the UK, and fifth-worst in London behind Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Haringey and Newham.
Of the 33 neighbourhoods the report defines in Southwark, 23 are in this category, while there are six in “D”, one in “C” and three in “B”. None are ranked in the best category.
Bromley is the best-rated borough in London, with seven neighbourhoods in the best category and just three in the worst.
Report author Paul de Sylva said: “For many of us lockdown exposed how critical quality outdoor space and nature is for our health and wellbeing. But our research shows just how much of a distant reality that is for millions of people across England who live in nature-deprived neighbourhoods.
“Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment. Greener neighbourhoods, well insulated homes and high-quality cycling routes are some of the key parts of this.”
The new report’s finding come after research last year found the vast majority of Southwark residents were happy with the open space available to them.
The borough’s parks were ranked the best in London by the Good Parks for London Report 2019.
The borough had 30 “green flag” parks – meaning parks that are well-maintained and managed.
Survey data showed 95 per cent of residents in the borough were happy with the parks and open spaces in their area.
Cllr Richard Williams said at the time: “Our parks are at the heart of our communities and play host to some fantastic events throughout the year.
“As a central London borough where most people do not have their own garden it is particularly important for our residents to have access to excellent open spaces.”
Southwark Council has been contacted for comment in response to the Friends of the Earth report.