The National Trust, together with other key figures, has called on the Prime Minister (July 5) to invest £5.5bn on urban green infrastructure as part of his “infrastructure revolution”.
In a letter co-written by the Trust, the Mayor of the West Midlands, Sustrans, Create Street, and local council leaders, the PM was urged to commit to a green infrastructure fund backed by new research by Vivid Economics and Barton Wilmore.
Commissioned by the National Trust and partners, the report highlights the economic potential of an investment on this scale, including £200bn in physical health benefits alleviating strain on local health service providers.
Throughout the pandemic, people have relied on parks and green spaces more, with a 25% surge May 2020 compared to May 2018, confirming the need for the greening of more urban neighbourhoods.
According to the Trust, almost a third of the UK population would benefit from this investment, especially regarding job creation, with an estimated 40,000 jobs in initial construction and over 6,000 permanent positions for ongoing maintenance.
The three major interventions needed to level up the access to quality green spaces are:
- Greening urban streets, with street parks and connected spaces to allow for safer walking and cycling.
- Upgrading run-down and poor-quality parks, including more trees, wildlife and facilities.
- Creating large regional parks and forest, connected to the city to provide wild natural spaces without the need to drive.
Andy Street, the Mayor of West Midlands says:
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how important these spaces are, not just for physical well-being but also for people’s mental health as well. Because of this there is now real potential to achieve bold, green, change in the next few years, and this must be at the forefront of the Government’s mind as it begins to draw up recovery plans for the country.
“Here in the West Midlands we have big ambitions for a new kind of National Park to unite the people of the West Midlands with their landscape and shared heritage. We want to connect our dense grey areas with surrounding green acres, create new urban greenspace, cycle routes, and wildlife-rich areas across all our towns and cities.
“Whether it is getting more people moving to tackle high-levels of obesity, or planting more trees to help us reach our climate change targets, an urban national park is an innovative idea that would make a significant difference to our region.”
image: Irk Valley by Farrells master planner © Adriette Myburgh