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Parks and green spaces

A successful park or public space can be the making of a place. An unsuccessful one can help to ruin it.

People sitting in a sunny park

Embankment Gardens, London

Ninety-one per cent of people say that parks and public spaces improve their quality of life. Almost nine out of 10 people use their local parks and green spaces. Over 40 per cent of us visit our local green space each week. If people are satisfied with their local parks they tend to be satisfied with their council. Urban green space encourages biodiversity, promotes healthy lifestyles, aids economic uplift and combats the effects of climate change. Successful public spaces promote popular and cohesive communities.

We need to place parks and public spaces at the heart of sustainable development. Good design, management and maintenance are essential to ensure these spaces are fit for purpose and meet everyone's needs.

Evidence

Having the evidence at your fingertips about the quantity, quality and value of green spaces is vital to making the case for investment and knowing the impact of a good service. It also means limited resources can best managed and targetted to where they will have the greatest effect. The following provides national data on the state of England's urban green spaces and skills, the impact on community health and well-being, particularly in the most deprived areas and information on new ways of valuing our parks which better accounts for the financial value they bring to society.

Urban green nation

No-one knows exactly how many green spaces there are in England’s urban areas, where they are, who owns them or what condition they are in. Our new report starts to fill this information gap.

Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health

Investigating the relationship between urban green space, inequality, ethnicity, health and wellbeing in the largest study of its kind in England.

The real value of park assets

Parks are often listed on local authority registers of assets as having little or no financial value.

Green space skills 2009: national employer survey findings

In July 2009 CABE, in partnership with English Heritage, commissioned Pye-Tait Consulting to carry out research to identify the total size, scope and labour market status of the green space sector in England.

Urban parks: do you know what you're getting for your money?

Explores whether more funding guarantees better quality parks and urban green spaces.

Tools

Managing an efficient green space service whilst maintaining high quality green spaces and ensuring the community and partners are involved is a challenge. Using tools can help standardise a high quality approach, and enables benchmarking standards with other organisations.

Towards an excellent service for parks and open spaces (TAES)

Framework enabling you to benchmark your service against a model of excellence and plan improvements.

Spaceshaper

A practical toolkit to measure the quality of a public space before investing time and money in improving it.

ParksMatch

ParksMatch encourages parks and green space managers to share green space skills across the country and create mentoring projects.

Future management

Management of our parks and green spaces, traditionally the role of local authorities and public bodies is beginning to be challenged. While local authorities are being given greater freedom to work more closely with local communities, the current economic climate means this freedom is being accompanied by significant budget cuts. In many cases, substantial restructuring and radically different approaches to service delivery are redefining what the public sector will provide. Many local authorities are considering alternative approaches to managing and financing their public spaces and testing a range of options.

This following offers advice and examples on what makes a successful parks and green space service and outlines some alternative models of managing and funding green spaces, including transferring ownership to community groups.

Paying for parks

Sets out the main options for funding the management and maintenance of urban green space.

Community-led spaces: a guide for local authorities and community groups

A guide to the issues involved in transferring ownership and management of public space from local authorities to community groups.

More about parks and green spaces at CABE

Decent homes need decent spaces

An action plan to improve open spaces in social housing areas. Prepared by CABE and the National Housing Federation in partnership with Neighbourhoods Green and over 30 social landlords.

Green space skills

The green space sector is facing a skills crisis with shortages of landscape architects and people with the horticultural know-how to create and maintain high quality green spaces.

Trees and design

We are working to ensure that trees are seen as an integral part of the urban landscape and public realm.