The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee has agreed to the following Report:
TOWN AND COUNTRY PARKS
"The measure of any great civilisation is
its cities and a measure of a city's greatness is to be found
in the quality of its public spaces, its parks and squares".
1. During the course of inquiries undertaken in 1998
and early 1999, the subject of parks was informally mentioned
several times in connection with discussions on sustainability
and urban regeneration. Gradually a consensus emerged among the
Environment Sub-committee of the Environment, Transport and Regional
Affairs Select Committee that this should be a topic for examination
at a future inquiry.
2. One of the features of the informal discussions
had been the contrast between those who saw parks as the glory
of Britain and those who lamented (or complained of) their decline.
In the case of urban parks, one of the reasons often put forward
for their supposed decline was the rise in popularity of country
and wildlife parks. The committee therefore decided to try to
establish whether urban parks had indeed declined, and, if so,
how serious the decline was and how it might be remedied. In view
of the argument that the decline of urban parks coincided with,
or was caused by, the rise of country parks we opted to include
country parks in our remit.
3. We saw our remit as follows:
- the social, economic and environmental benefits
of public parks;
- the condition of public parks;
- the roles and responsibilities of the DETR and
other Government Departments, of local authorities and of other
bodies in the maintenance and protection of public parks and public
policy on parks;
- the funding of public parks, including funding
from National Lottery distributing bodies; and
- other matters which may arise in the course of
4. Seventy-six items of written evidence were received
from various bodies. In addition, we held a series of oral evidence
sessions, and visited Oldham, Tameside, Manchester, and Stockport.
Individual members also undertook private research into their
5. We are extremely grateful to all who submitted
evidence, answered our questions and arranged our visits. Our
inquiry was greatly aided by our expert advisors, Alan Barber
and David Lambert, to whom we are deeply grateful.
6. According to the Institute of Horticulture, "the
history of Public Parks goes back to ancient Greece, where the
city of Athens set aside certain open spaces for the enjoyment
of the public".
However, like other witnesses such as the Garden History Society,
who refer us to their joint publication with the Victorian Society,
Public Prospects: Historic Urban Parks under Threat, the
Institute see the United Kingdom as being the first country to
develop municipal parks.
7. Many of the leading designers of the day were
involved in laying out public parks, the design principles in
the 19th century being largely founded on the work of Humphry
Repton in 18th-century private parks and pleasure grounds. The
Garden History Society and Victorian Society's publication lists,
among others, Derby Arboretum (1840), Philips Park Manchester
(1846), Grosvenor Park Chester (1867), Hesketh Park Southport
(1868), Stanley Park Liverpool (1870), Abbey Park Leicester (1882),
Hanley Park Stoke-on-Trent (1891), Prince's Park Liverpool (1842),
Birkenhead Park (1847), Crystal Palace Park London (1845), People's
Park Halifax (1857) and Baxter Park Dundee (1863) as fine examples
of this trend.
8. The park movement began slowly at first, mainly
in the industrial centres of northwest England:
"In 1846, Manchester became the first of the
great industrial cities to open municipal parks, raising the money
by public subscription. As the park movement accelerated, land
was donated and works were funded by philanthropists and industrialists,
but by far the greatest number of parks were created by the local
authorities themselves, and were a great cause for civic pride.
By the end of the century, parks had become an essential part
of the urban fabric: as much a part of the effort to raise urban
living standards as libraries, public baths and museums".
9. Public parks offered healthy and easily accessible
recreation for those living and working in the often poor environment
of Victorian Britain's rapidly-expanding towns and cities. An
unhealthy and demoralised workforce threatened to become a social
burden and depress the gains of the Industrial Revolution. Parks
were seen as 'green lungs', addressing economic, social and environmental
concerns which remain relevant today.
10. Then, the common aim of these parks was to offer
a wide range of facilities and attractions, create a variety of
landscapes, and accommodate large numbers of people. Over the
decades, more emphasis was placed on sports. When they were first
designed, municipal parks were often quite formal spaces; that
formality has been relaxed of recent years as the result of this
increasing emphasis on sport, and also because of reduced staffing
11. By 1900 each local authority, however small,
felt it needed its own park.
Parks were newly laid out by each council; in some cases large
houses and their grounds were bought or donated by local benefactors.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century there was intense
local rivalry between councils on the matter of who had the best
show of spring bulbs, roses or bedding-out plants, flowering clocks,
or floral coats-of-arms. We were reminded of this on our visit
to Philips Park in Manchester, where in the past a great sense
of local occasion and civic pride had been engendered by their
12. The main responsibility for parks at a national
level lies with the Department of the Environment, Transport and
the Regions (DETR), but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport
(DCMS) also has some responsibility. In oral evidence, the Minister
for the Arts, Alan Howarth, outlined the role of his department.
He saw the DCMS as a sponsoring department for English Heritage
and Lottery Allocation bodies; in the case of Royal Parks his
department directly spent £26.389 million.
13. He told us how the new Regional Cultural Consortiums
were to work,
and stressed that they ought to include parks in their remit.
He also made it clear that the new Museums, Libraries and Archive
Council was not a suitable body to deal with historic parks
and suggested that the new Commission on Architecture and the
Built Environment (CABE) might be a more appropriate organisation.
Later he added: "We do expect that CABE will concern itself
with the totality of the urban environment".
14. While, as the DETR
points out, no local authority has a statutory duty to provide
or maintain parks, civic pride in the 100 years from 1850 to 1950
meant that most local authorities have used the permissive powers
of section 164 of the Public Health Act 1875 or the Open Spaces
Act 1906 to develop local parks. In their evidence the Open Spaces
Society sets out the complexity of the present law.
15. It was only after the 1970s that English urban
parks appeared to suffer a loss of status and esteem. This was
just at the moment when the Countryside Commission, set up by
the Countryside Act 1968, began to encourage the establishment
of country parks. Today there are over 250 country parks, attracting
57 million visits per year.
16. As the Countryside Agency points out, country
parks can form 'gateways' between town and country. We were able
to confirm this on our visit to Reddish Vale and the Medlock Valley
in Greater Manchester, where we saw these country parks leading
out from central urban areas towards the Pennines.
17. The Countryside Agency estimates that there are
over 250 country parks ranging in size from 11 hectares (27 acres)
to 1,875 hectares, and that well over half of them attract at
least 100,000 visits a year.
The majority of responses to our invitation to submit evidence
concentrated on urban rather than country parks. While urban parks
had indeed been intended as the main focus of our inquiry, we
included country parks in our terms of reference in order to establish
whether they had taken over the role of town parks, and how far
funding country parks had resulted in restricting the amount of
money available for traditional urban parks.
18. This view had been expressed to us informally,
as we have noted, but it also emerged during the present inquiry.
For example Mr Tom Turner, author of City as Landscape, Landscape
Planning and Environmental Impact Design, and (with
Bryan Bowen) Public Open Space Planning and Management with
Geographic Information Systems, claimed that: "Most people
now have cars, and can drive into the country for the 'green experience'
which they once enjoyed in the public park".
19. This view appeared to be borne out when we visited
North Reddish on a Tuesday morning. Though North Reddish Park
was almost empty, a mile away Reddish Vale Country Park was thriving
with activity: duck-feeding, dog-walking, fishing, a school visit,
and people out walking or jogging. However, as very little formal
evidence was submitted to us we have no means of concluding whether
competition from country parks really does account, in part or
whole, for the decline of urban parks.
20. Furthermore, even in the case of the apparently
thriving country parks, a cause for concern may be emerging. The
Countryside Commission publication, Countryside RecreationEnjoying
the Living Countryside (March 1999), recognised that some
countryside parks are also now showing their age. Some are already
in need of attention and investment to rejuvenate them.
This view was echoed in informal discussions in Oldham and Tameside.
The evidence is inconclusive as yet. Oldham's Director of Education
and Leisure Services, Mr Michael Willis, suggested in oral evidence
that the authority was not too worried by the condition and funding
for their country parks,
whereas Mr Paul Lawday, Director of Education and Leisure Services
in the neighbouring borough of Tameside which shares responsibility
for the Tame Valley, expressed some concern.
21. The Countryside Agency in both written and oral
evidence was upbeat about the value of country parks, stating
that they "continue to provide a crucial place for people
to visit and enjoy".
In response to the problems highlighted above, the Agency wished
to lead "a renaissance in country parks"
and has accordingly proposed a number of specific initiatives.
We welcome this determination to champion the cause of country
parks, as we believe that their continued maintenance is likely
to come under the same kind of financial pressure as their urban
counterparts We were, however, disappointed to learn that the
Countryside Agency was reluctant to "put itself forward as
22. We welcome the Countryside Agency's continued
commitment to country parks, but believe that a financial commitment
is required in order to make its leadership effective. We therefore
recommend that the Countryside Agency reviews its present allocation
of resources to country parks and specifically considers offering
grants towards the repairs which are now becoming necessary. In
addition to the production of best practice guidance, we want
to see the Agency keep the subject under annual or continuing
A BASIC PROBLEMTHE INFORMATION DEFICIT
23. Though witnesses sent in plenty of evidence about
urban parks, here too there is a basic lack of information. Discussions
were informative but largely took place in a statistical vacuum.
In their written evidence, the Landscape Heritage Trust (LHT)
quoted a figure of 34,753 of "UK parks and open spaces under
local authority control",
but these figures may not be entirely reliable. The LHT was quoting
figures cited in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers feasibility study.
In turn, these were based on data collected by the Audit Commission
misquoting Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) figures (7,000 instead
of 5,000) and incorrectly adding 2,700 nationally listed or registered
sites to the historic parks listed in the HLF survey.
24. The figure of "30,000 parks in the UK of
which 5,000 could be regarded as of national or local heritage
merit" which the HLF themselves quote in their written evidence
may be more reliable, but even so it is potentially misleading
since the term 'park' was not defined in their survey. It was
thus open to a variety of interpretations by survey respondents.
One large metropolitan borough council, for example, said it had
only 8 parks, whilst a small rural authority claimed 130. Obviously
they were working to different implicit definitions. One can only
assume that the small rural authority had taken 'park' to mean
any local authority maintained open space including grassed areas
in housing estates, cemeteries, local authority-maintained churchyards
and golf courses, whereas the large metropolitan borough had excluded
all these spaces and perhaps some areas which others might have
seen as bona fide 'parks'. Our advisers' estimate is that, taken
together, there are probably about 5,000 country parks and formal
urban parks and gardens in the UK.
25. Similarly, most visitor figures are derived from
a single source. As far as we are aware, the only statistical
evidence has been compiled by Ken Worpole, author of Park Life:
Urban Parks and Social Renewal and People, Parks and Cities
and one of Britain's most informed advocates of the place of the
civic realm in raising the quality of life for urban people.
The latter report, compiled by Comedia/Demos and funded by local
authorities, was constantly quoted by other witnesses. Mr Worpole
and his team counted the numbers of people visiting three urban
parksAlbert Park, Middlesborough; Victoria Park, Cardiff;
and Clissold Park, Hackney. Extrapolating from these figures,
he estimated that the parks had annual attendances of 1 million,
½ million and 1 million respectively, and concludes that:
"100 million park attendances in London alone would not be
amiss". These figures have not been challenged and were vigorously
defended in his oral evidence.
They were the basis of most other witness's estimates.
26. Of course, if figures were available for attendance
at individual parks it might well be discovered that averages
such as this mask very wide variations from park to park. Looking,
as we did, simply at parks in the Manchester area, one can see
that some, such as Bruntwood Park in Stockport and Wythenshaw
Park in Manchester are extremely popular; others, such as Stockport's
Hollywood Park and Manchester's Queens Park, are shunned, despite
their historic status. Similarly, the restored Stamford Park in
Tameside buzzes with activity on a sunny day, whereas the unrestored
Hyde Park is under-used.
27. The ideal level of park provision is a related
statistical vacuum. It seems there is no standard which establishes
the minimum amount of parkland needed in towns. As the National
Playing Fields Association pointed out, there is clear guidance
for sport, the so-called "six acre standard" (that is,
six acres of provision per 1,000 head of population). This has
been used by local planning authorities throughout the UK as a
minimum standard to calculate their outdoor land for sport and
children's play and has been recommended in the DETR's Policy
Planning Guidance Note 17 on Sport and Recreation.
Though it was pointed out during our visit to Tameside that the
target took no notice of the quality of the land, nor whether
the sites were well located for use or management, it does at
least provide a benchmark of provision.
28. There is no such benchmark for informal recreational
areas such as parks. We accept that laying down a minimum park
provision could be a complicated task (and there is bound to be
some overlap with the six acre standard for sport as some land
in parks contributes to this target). Nevertheless, the absence
of such standards, which should also encompass attributes including
ease of access, landscape quality and diversity, helps preempt
meaningful discussion of issues such as park provision and maintenance.
29. In so many of the Environment Sub-committee's
inquiries it is apparent that decisions were being made by local
government, central government, individuals and companies on the
basis of incomplete or inaccurate information. This is certainly
true of parks.
We believe it is essential that adequate research should be
undertaken, and accurate records kept, of matters such as whether
the amount of park, parkland and urban greenspace has increased
or decreased over the last 30 years, what are the cost implications
of maintaining this land, and whether attractive low cost regimes
(such as local or volunteer help) can be used to look after some
of this land, whilst still retaining its value as a recreational
30. We expect the Government to come up with an
effective research programme for parks as part of its Urban White
Paper. The Committee is also of the view that all local authorities
ought to know the extent of their parks in terms of their number,
size, attributes and facilities. By means of a regular and statistically
valid evaluation of their parks, local authorities should estimate
visitor numbers, and know something of who they are and what they
think of their parks. By these means, a national total of number
of parks can be arrived at and comparisons made.
31. As we noted in the Preface to this Report, two
sets of views dominate formal and informal discussions about urban
parks. Some people love urban greenspaces and campaign to restore
public parks, particularly the historic ones, to their former
glory. Others see them as the emblems of urban decline. The former
stress the value of parks to urban living; the latter stress park
decline. We believe there is justice in both these arguments,
so in the paragraphs below we present each view in turn. For Government
and local authorities, the aim should be to respond to both views,
and devise ways of maximising the value of parks and halting the
decline. Finally, therefore, we discuss ways this might be achieved.
TWO VIEWS 1: THE VALUE OF URBAN PARKS.
32. As an introduction to the views of those who
stressed the value of urban parks and greenspaces, we can do no
better than to quote evidence given by the Institute of Leisure
and Amenity Management:
"Urban Parks and Green Spaces are an essential
part of the urban heritage and infrastructure, being a strong
element in the architectural and landscape character of a city,
providing a sense of place and engendering civic pride.
They are important for enabling social interaction
and fostering community development. Public green spaces help
conserve natural systems, including carbon, water and other natural
cycles, within the urban environment, supporting ecosystems and
providing the contrast of living elements in both designed landscapes
and conserved wildlife habitats within our urban settlements.
They are supportive of social and economic objectives
and activities. In particular the provision of public parks helps
to reduce the inequalities, poor health and social exclusion in
deprived areas and reduces the inherent tension between the many
social and ethnic groups. Providing for the recreational and leisure
needs of a community assists the economic revival of cities, increasing
their attractiveness as a place for business investment, to live,
work and take our leisure."
These are themes that recurred throughout the evidence
presented to our inquiry.
33. The memorandum sent in by the Wildlife Trusts
and Urban Wildlife Partnerships stressed the role of parks in
maintaining biodiversity. They told us:
"Parks may include wildlife habitats or provide
opportunities for the creation of naturalistic habitats ... Larger
parks ... are an important element in the network of urban green
space, providing links between isolated pockets of biodiversity
in the countryside for wildlife to migrate along ... The crucial
role of parks has been acknowledged by wildlife experts as witnessed
by their inclusion in a number of Biodiversity Action Plans".
34. Stockport MBC said: "Urban and public greenspace
provides a sanctuary for wildlife and nature which are under pressure
from agricommerce"; and "Public greenspace is one of
the few areas where biodiversity action planning is capable of
being put into effect".
They also noted that: "Trees and woodland can moderate effects
of weather, provide great aesthetic and visual effects, provide
havens for wildlife as well as absorb pollution and free radicals
from surrounding atmosphere and contribute significantly to the
reduction in noise levels".
35. Other witnesses also stressed the value of parks
in thus maintaining 'ecological health'. Bristol City Council
Leisure Services Department noted that: "... parks contribute
to the ecological health of the city. Open spaces are the 'lungs'
of the city. The evaporation from trees' foliage helps to cool
the air when the weather is hot. They trap airborne dust particles,
filter air pollution and fix atmospheric carbon".
Dr Hazel Conway, author of several books on urban parks including
People's Parks, and for 3 years involved in the HLF discussions
which led to the setting up of the Urban Parks Panel, made a similar
point: "One hectare of urban park, with trees, shrubs and
grass can remove 600 kg of carbon dioxide from the air and deliver
600 kg of oxygen in a 12 hour period".
Health and Relaxation
36. English Nature told us that they have reviewed
some of the benefits which daily contact with plants and animals
brings, and "the minimum standards for providing accessible
'natural' greenspace which such regular contact demands".
Their report, Human well-being, natural landscapes and wildlife
in urban areas: A review, concluded that: "Human beings
need to make contact with nature in the course of their daily
lives, and no special effort (or journey) ought to be required
for obtaining it". Their report on Accessible natural
greenspace in towns and cities: A review of appropriate size and
distance criteria found that to maintain good health by these
means required that "an accessible natural greenspace of
two hectares should lie within 280 metres of everyone's home".
37. The memorandum of the Urban Forum of the UK Man
and the Biosphere Committee offered figures of: "One 2ha
site within 500m ... and one accessible 500ha site within 10km"
and noted that these standards were adopted by English Nature
in 1996 with a modification that everyone should have access to
a natural greenspace in less than 300m in a straight line from
38. It is a general consensus that relaxation, contemplation
and passive recreation are effective relievers of stress. As the
Institute of Horticulture put it: "It has long been believed
that Urban Parks, as an antidote to the pressures of urban living
... promote both physical and mental well-being".
Similar points were made in oral evidence by Mr Bernard Sheridan,
Manager, Urban and Countryside Services Stockport MBC, who told
us that research had shown that: "within 20 minutes of going
into a quality green space, things like stress levels ... and
... toxins ... are reduced substantially, blood pressure and heart
rate are reduced and also stress level tension in the muscles
Bristol City Council, Leisure Services Department told us that:
"There is a growing belief in the 'Biophillia effect'which
links environmental quality to social behaviour and suggests that
close contact with nature on a regular or even casual basis reduces
stress, anxiety and aggression".
This effect was also noted by Dr Hazel Conway.
39. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental
Management told us that social changes have led to people having
more time for leisure and to adopt "a fitter and healthier
lifestyle ... It is known, for example, that over 84 per cent
of the population take recreation by walking in open spaces and
Mr D.A.T. Thain, a member of the Friends of Dunloran Park, submitting
his own written evidence emphasised that parks such as his provide
"an ideally calm and protected place for walking, with or
without one's dog, with lovely views and freedom from traffic".
40. Mr Worpole likewise told us that: "It is
part of the pattern of every day life for a large number of people.
... It is a kind of walkable, bump-into-able kind of place which
I think is a very important function to have in a community".
"The percentage of people who walk to urban
parks is astonishingly stable at about 69 per cent. If Clissold
Park in Hackney recorded well over 5,000 users on one Sunday in
1997, the majority of whom walked to the park, then it must have
been in the region of 20-30 per cent of the local catchment population.
All our surveys showed that over 40 per cent of those interviewed
in parks claimed to visit every day."
41. These sorts of provision are specially important
for disabled people. As evidence from Jane Stoneham, Director
of the Sensory Trust, and Tony Kendle from the University of Reading's
Department of Horticulture and Landscape, noted "lack of
confidence about what challenges will be encountered"
often prevent disabled people from using natural sites. Parks
are therefore very important facilities for them. Parks "represent
the main opportunity for the greatest number of people to have
contact with nature, particularly for people with limited mobility":
"The benefits of sport and exercise cannot be
underestimated, but these benefits can and must be extended to
a wider population. Government health policy is moving towards
an emphasis on holistic approaches to maintaining health rather
than trying to cure sickness. Urban parks can play a key role
in provision of doctor-prescribed health walks and also provide
less formal ways of encouraging people to maintain activity and
Play, Entertainment and Recreation
42. As the Central Council for Physical Recreation
(CCPR), the National Playing Field Association (NPFA) and Stockport
MBC all told us in their written evidence,
good parks will provide space for vigorous and noisy activity,
and offer facilities for sport, recreation and leisure. "Public
parks", the CCPR told us, "should play an essential
role in encouraging children's play by providing appropriate and
safe play areas".
The sort of activities a park can accommodate were described by
Mr Thain. In Dunloran Park there is boating and canoeing on the
lake and elderly people and young couples with their children
come to feed the birds. At weekends the lake is used by a model
yacht and boat club. There is a peaceful picnicking place that
shop and office workers may use during their lunch-time break.
The upper field is available to the horticultural society's annual
display, to visiting circuses (Moscow and China), to Scout Camps,
and other groups. The northern slopes, where the café is
situated, make a safe viewing area for spectators at the annual
charity fireworks display, which is set up on the southern side
of the lake.
43. "Greenspace at its best should be at the
heart of the community and its leisure provision ... where good
quality public parks are managed well they can be at the wellspring
of community spirit," Stockport MBC told us. This effect
could be achieved because parks are accessible to all ages, gender,
race and religions; they can absorb crowds, especially large groups
of young people, away from streets/shopping centres; events, large
and small, can be staged there throughout the year. Greenspace
issues are capable of uniting the whole community and can be the
focus of community development and local regeneration fostering
a sense of community pride; such activity promotes ethnic and
social harmony; and play and family activities in greenspace contribute
to building strong families. The Black Environment Network pointed
out how the activities involving "celebration, discovery
and enjoyment" which parks could accommodate impacted "directly
on the quality of life of vulnerable groups".
44. The same point was made by Mr Timothy Marshall,
who was Deputy Administrator for Central Park, New York for 14
years. He told the Inquiry how improvements in Central Park had,
as he put it "jumped the wall"; that is, they had led
to a greater sense of civic pride among people in the disadvantaged
areas to the north of the park and "sparked a renewed interest
on the part of neighbourhood residents who now use the park".
45. The point about ethnic and racial harmony was
also brought up by Mr Worpole. When he was asked in oral evidence
whether he thought that parks help build strong communities particularly
in towns and cities, he replied:
"Yes, because we did pay attention to ethnic
minority use of parks which we investigated and it was as high
as the ethnic minority populations represented in that area. What
is interesting about parks is that they do not have what is called
the threshold factor of other cultural institutions and everybody
does feel free to walk into a park ... The flexibility of a park
to accommodate all different people's cultures, it is an open
stage in which different sectors of the community can at different
times of the year present themselves".
46. According to Stockport MBC: "A huge range
of educational opportunities can be met" in parks.
Urban greenspace can be used as "a training resource, can
positively contribute to the skill levels of communities".
Mr Marshall spoke of Central Park now being "used as an educational
as well as recreational resource ... the park is used as a tool
to teach history, natural sciences, mathematics, and civic pride".
The same effect was noted by Dr Conway.
The Urban Economy
47. Parks may prove to be an important factor in
urban regeneration. For example, the Garden History Society pointed
out that a programme of park-building was the first step in the
preparation of Barcelona's bid for the 1992 Olympics, and that
the city's investment in parks and urban infrastructure "to
prepare the ground for private developers, has continued to this
Similarly, the author and journalist Gillian Darley, architectural
correspondent to The Observer,
pointed to a number of other cities in France, the Netherlands,
Italy and the USA where park restoration had fostered city regeneration.
48. An interesting local example of the link between
even the smallest park, homes and regeneration is provided by
the Centenary Exhibition booklet (1997) sent in by the Friends
of Heaton Moor Park.
It features, among other things, quotations from The Path to
Healthy and Happy Homes, a 1930s guidebook to the Manchester
area, which describes Heaton Moor as one of the "very best
residential suburbs" with "many open spaces, delightful
parks and recreation grounds in which there are facilities for
every outdoor game and amusement." An adjoining advertisement
for houses overlooking the park has the headline "Heaton
Moor for Health and Houses." Plans show the park as being
planned and laid out in the 1890s before housing development had
quite reached so far, and the houses being built around it in
several stages at later dates. The park remains an attraction
and has helped foster the recent regeneration of the district.
49. Sheffield City Council's evidence
claims that Sheffield is the greenest city in England with 500
sites (1,830 hectares of parks and open spaces, and 1,400 hectares
of woodland) which represents nearly 50 sq.m of public open space
per person. When, in an oral session, Councillor Martin Brelsford
was asked if he regarded it as a burden or an asset, he said "definitely
... an asset".
Mr Keith Crawshaw, Head of Leisure Services, added, "one
of the clear selling points of the city is the gold and green
frame in which it sits".
50. Stockport MBC noted that quality greenspace contributes
greatly to the value of a neighbourhood and positively affects
property values. Attractive areas bring inward investment and
business retention and can provide a wide range of employment
opportunities as part of a regeneration programme. Well-managed
greenspace can contribute to the tourism value of an area. In
addition: "the provision of meaningful leisure activities
in greenspace can reduce the high costs of vandalism and criminal
Responding to a notice about the inquiry posted in Horticulture
Week, Mr A.P. Bishop noted that: "Many local authorities
can afford to open the purse strings ... it can pay off in the
long run". He gives his reasons as: reduction in crime; 30
per cent increases in house prices; better health; better education;
employment opportunities; revenue to towns; and the creation of
"If you go into any estate agent, and we did," said
Mr Worpole, "they will tell you if you are only 50 yards
from a certain park there is £10,000 on the cost of the house".
51. Though it has been commonplace in the last 30
years to regard entertainment in the park as an expense rather
than a money earner, parks can and do also generate income through
tourism and in-park facilities. We were told that Bruntwood Park
in Stockport was able to cover its costs from the café
franchise, the kiosk sales, the pitch-and-putt course and the
car-parking charges. In a supplementary memo, Stockport MBC noted
that: "Greenspace and its facilities and attractions can
generate income ... Stockport's greenspace provides direct income
from hire of sports pitches, fishing, golf, car parking etc amounting
to around £300,000 per annum".
Mr Thain observed that Dunloran Park, with "its range of
facilities, is an attraction to tourists visiting Tunbridge Wells
or making a tour of parks in the region. When restoration work,
for which finance is currently being sought from the National
Lottery, has been carried out, its attractions would be significantly
52. The Landscape Heritage Trust quoted a report
by PriceWaterhouseCoopers which argued that the value of urban
parks can be calculated in financial terms and that this value
"is likely to be in the region of over £5,000 million
Similarly, evaluating the effects of tourism expenditure at leading
UK parks and historic gardens suggests a local economic impact
of approximately £300 million per annum.
53. The Committee is enthusiastic about the Government's
concept of an 'urban renaissance'. It notes that such an aspiration
comes not only from Lord Rogers' Task Force, but is shared by
all the main political parties. On its success hangs a wide range
of Government environmental aims, from the Climate Change Programme
to our ability to meet pollution targets and protect the countryside
from urban sprawl. Lord Rogers' final report says
"To achieve urban integration means thinking
of urban open space not as an isolated unitbe it a street,
park or a squarebut as a vital part of urban landscape
with its own specific set of functions. Public space should be
conceived of as an outdoor room within a neighbourhood, somewhere
to relax, and enjoy the urban experience, a venue for a range
of different activities, from outdoor eating, to street entertainment;
from sport and play areas to a venue for civic or political functions;
and most importantly of all a place for walking or sitting-out.
Public spaces work best when they establish a direct relationship
between the space and the people who live and work around it".
54. We believe that parks must be a key element in
this vision. Ideally there should be a seamless transition from
the home and private garden, through landscaped areas, into urban
parks, and on to the countryside or country park. If our cities
are to see a renaissance then we should bear in mind the words
of John Ruskin: "The measure of any great civilisation is
its cities and a measure of a city's greatness is to be found
in the quality of its public spaces, its parks and squares".
55. We should 'start with the park', as one of the
founding architect-planners, Don Ritson, advised:
"In many 'developed' societies, economists and
politicians are increasingly puzzled by the fact that increased
material wealth no longer automatically produces an increased
sense of well-being. ... In the search for new values, based less
on material wealth and more on the quality of personal and social
relationships and community, together with a restored relationship
to the natural world, then the urban park could once again come
into its own as a site for social renewal ... Asked what was the
foundation stone of these new communities ... Don Ritson simply
stated that one should 'Start with the Park'".
56. We believe that parks are key features in
the renaissance of our urban areas. They have been instrumental
in the regeneration of New York, Barcelona and Paris.
They need to be recognised and resourced as such by central and
local government. In addition, the Social Exclusion Unit should
give a high priority to making parks attractive places where all
the community can enjoy themselves.
1 John Ruskin Back
An account of the Committee's visit is contained in an annex to
this report. Back
TCP 7 Ev p. 12 Back
TCP 49 Ev p. 121; and TCP 36 Back
Public Prospects Back
See, for example, evidence from the Friends of Heaton Moor Park
TCP 74 Back
QQ 665 to 673 Back
Q 687 Back
A press release published on 4 June 1999 by the Department for
Culture, Media and Sport sets out the role of the new Regional
Cultural Consortiums as follows: " to champion the role and
importance of culture and the creative industries in the English
regions ...The Consortiums will assist the improved delivery of
regional cultural services and draw up a regional cultural strategy
feeding into the work of the Regional Development Agency and other
organisations in the region. They will also have a role in developing
the Lottery distributors' strategies". Back
Q 698 Back
Q 675 Back
Q 678 Back
Q 678 Back
TCP 30 Ev p. 65 Back
TCP 19 Back
TCP 15 Ev p. 34 Back
TCP 15 Ev p. 34 Back
TCP 35 Ev p.81 Back
TCP 15 Ev p. 35 Back
Q 245-6 Back
Q 273-275 Back
Q 388 Back
TCP15 Ev p. 24 Back
For example, identifying best practice in attracting new sources
of capital and revenue funds, and publishing advice to local authorities
- see TCP 15, Ev p. 25 Back
Q 403 Back
TCP 24 Ev p. 57 Back
TCP 54 Ev p. 138 Back
NB: The Royal Parks Agency does assess visitor numbers to its
eight urban parks in London Back
Q 66 Back
TCP 23 Ev p. 55 para 7.1 Back
Q 248 Back
TCP 22 Ev p. 51; Q 70 Back
TCP 12 Ev p. 28 - ILAM quote based on a description originally
contained in Council of Europe Recommendation No R(86)11 of the
Committee of Ministers to Members States on Urban Open Space Back
TCP 45 Ev p. 109 Back
TCP 34 Ev p. 79 Back
TCP 13 Ev p. 30 Back
TCP 36 Ev p. 84 3.para 6
- based on a Landscape Design article, February
TCP 4 Ev p. 6 Back
TCP 6 Ev p. 11 Back
TCP 7 Ev p. 14 para 4.3 Back
Q 306 Back
TCP 13 Ev p. 29 Back
TCP 36 Ev p. 84 para 3.7 Back
TCP 8 Ev p. 18 para 4.1 Back
TCP 1 Ev p.1 Back
Q 75 Back
TCP 46, Ev p.113 Back
TCP 21, Ev p.50 Back
TCP 21, Ev p. 50 Back
TCP 11; TCP23; TCP 34 Back
TCP 11, Ev p.22 Back
Judy Long Wong for the Black Environment Network, The Benefits
to Vulnerable Social Groups of Town and Country Parks Back
TCP 59 Ev p. 150 Back
Q 54 Back
TCP 34 Ev p. 78 Back
TCP 34 Ev p. 79 Back
TCP 59; Q 593 Back
TCP 36 Ev p. 82 Back
TCP 49 Back
TCP 61 Back
Friends of Heaton Moor Park, Centenary Exhibition 1997 Back
TCP 41 Ev p.94 Back
Q 137 Back
Q 137 Back
TCP 34 Ev p. 78-79 Back
TCP 25, Ev p.59 Back
Q 58 Back
TCP 34 (a) - see Appendices to Mins of Ev (HC477-III) Back
TCP 1 Ev p. 1 Back
TCP 24 Ev p. 57 Back
Towards an Urban Renaissance: Final Report of the Urban Task
Force Chaired by Lord Rogers of Riverside, June 1999, Ev p.
Quoted by ILAM (TCP 12 Ev p. 24); Growing Ambitions Limited (TCP
28 Ev p. 63) and others Back
Quoted in Ken Worpole's Park Life: Urban Parks and Social Renewal.
Also in TCP 49 Ev p. 123. Back
Referred to by TCP 61 Ev p. 153 and others Back