Liverpool signs first pledge in bid to protect its parks

Liverpool City Council has signed its first legally-binding agreement to protect the city’s parks forever.

In one of her final acts as Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, has sealed the deal to protect Falkner Square Gardens, in Toxteth, with the Council set to agree similar terms for another 20 much-loved parks and green spaces within the next 12 months.

In total, more than 1,000 hectares of urban green space will eventually be enshrined for future generations in the city to enjoy as part of a unique partnership with the charity Fields in Trust.

Liverpool City Council is the UK’s first local authority to adopt and enforce this approach, ensuring that the outdoor areas will not be built on or sold off, safeguarding the land and ensuring a tangible legacy for local communities.

Through partnership work, the Council will secure the future of dozens of much-loved parks and green spaces across the city in a phased approach with an aim to complete by the end of 2024.

As part of the first phase, Fields In Trust carried out a strategic review to identify the spaces which have the most potential to improve physical and mental wellbeing.

Liverpool City Council will retain ownership of the green spaces and will continue to be responsible for the maintenance of all of the parks.

The importance of parks and green spaces for people’s mental and physical wellbeing was brought into sharp focus during the Covid-19 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 and according to the ONS, just 1 in 6 people in Liverpool (16 per cent) have no access to a private, or shared garden.

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 their parks and green spaces to support the health and wellbeing of future generations.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said, “Liverpool is blessed to have so many stunning green spaces, and by signing this deal it 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 the pandemic when they became 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 the charity to secure the future of all of these vital assets.”

Fields in Trust Chair of Trustees, Jo Barnett said, “Throughout 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.”

Image: LCC

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