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Lockdown lesson for government: 71% want local green spaces enhanced

As lockdown in England eases and many venture out into their local green spaces, new research has found 71% of people think their local green spaces.

green spaces

Research commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity and the HomeOwners Alliance, and polled by YouGov as the lockdown started, shows that the majority of people (71%) of adults in England think their local green space, or nearby countryside, could be enhanced.

The majority of these people would also like to see more wildlife (52%) and a greater variety of plant life (51%) in their local green space.

During lockdown, we have seen a surge in appreciation for local green spaces and a heightened awareness of their role in boosting our physical and mental health and wellbeing. For the one in eight households who do not have access to their own garden, accessible shared or public green spaces are all the more important.

CPRE, the countryside charity and the HomeOwners Alliance believe that everyone should have easy access to quality green spaces from their doorsteps and the government should go further to protect and enhance these spaces. Today’s results show that the public agree, and those who were in favour of enhancements would like to see:

  1. More wildlife including birds, butterflies and bees; (52%)
  2. More and a greater variety of trees, shrubs, hedgerows, plants and flowers (52%)
  3. More wilding and less manicured green spaces, allowing nature to take its course (30%)
  4. More signposted walks (36%); and
  5. Better maintenance of paths and tending of trees and lawn (34%).

Unprompted, respondents added that reducing litter and litter collection are also key issues affecting our countryside and green spaces.

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘Access to quality local green spaces has hurtled up the agenda as a political issue and for good reason. As lockdown eases, many people are turning to their local patch of green as a place to meet family and friends, subject of course to social distancing, as well as their daily dose of exercise and nature. We’ve been championing local countryside and green spaces for nearly a century, believing they are vital for our health and wellbeing – a natural health service as they’re now being called.

‘But not everyone has access to green spaces and too many have been lost as the countryside next door to our largest towns and cities faces mounting pressure for development. If the government is serious about learning the lessons of the pandemic, it must use upcoming planning reforms to protect these precious spaces and recognise their value as a natural health service, as we do. But we can’t stop there – by properly investing in our green spaces we can make these spaces easily accessible to more people and invite wildlife like birds, butterflies and bees back.’

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of Homeowners Alliance, said:

‘Now that people are allowed to move, new build homes and those with nearby green space are becoming more popular. There is a real opportunity for developers and government to create quality green spaces; and this is much more than a patch of lawn. Planning reform should ensure that green spaces are not considered to be an afterthought or a nice extra given the positive role they can play in people’s lives.’


Leave a comment (9)* Required

  1. K WhiteheadK Whitehead

    The open space on our estate is just s large area of grass. The management company charge huge uncapped fees to cut it. It is a public open space and is used by many dog owners as a toilet for them so of no use at all.
    If we could plant a wild flower meadow instead and the council took it over it would not be a great expense to them to take care if it and maybe would be respected more.
    We in effect pay two council taxes for nothing. It is unfair for estates to be tied to these management companies and if homeowners had known the truth about the implications of their involvement in the purchase people would have walked away.

  2. VenuhaVenuha

    I feel unhappy to live in new build house because of the management companies activities which are designed to money making purposes. The new build houses have been built for the business purposes for management company, developers and government but not for enjoyment. This will impact on ordinary people life and their mental health. The council would not adopt the green space areas so we are forced to pay disputes service charges for management company on top of council tax.. During the lock down period, one of our management company cut the deadly grasses weekly basics as they want to maintain grass verge 26 times per annum. It doesn’t matter if the grass grows or not. They will do their duty perfectly -damaging the grass, planting them back and sending a uncapped service charge bill .Their frequent grass cuttings discourage birds/wildlife. As a human being, no one can enjoy the green space areas while we pay the unreasonable service charges to the private management company. This corrupted system is not fair at all and making me financial difficulties. I lost my happiness and my kids are living under poverty due to credit card debt .This needs to be fixed by government as soon as possible . Unless Council adopt the green spaces, People moving to the new build house never make any positive impact on people life.

  3. C StamperC Stamper

    The trouble with new build estates is they aren’t adopted by the local council so the residents of the estate have to pay to maintain them but anyone can use the green spaces on them. The service charges are uncapped and managing agents are unregulated, so as well as paying full council tax they have to pay again for these green spaces. Big con really.

  4. J RaynerJ Rayner

    The current pandemic and lock down has shown us all how important green spaces are for our health and wellbeing. However for residents on new build eststes we have to pay to have our green spaces maintained as well as paying full council tax. This is so wrong. Councils should adopt these spaces and look after them as everyone benefits from them not just the residents of the estate.

  5. D BeestonD Beeston

    Service charges for open spaces and failure to maintain despite monies being taken needs an urgent review and changes to the law to outlaw these practises. Open spaces should be owned and managed by councils. If this means a lift in council tax specifically to maintain good useful open spaces I’m sure residents would be happy to pay. Personally I would happily pay my service charge to the council, they are open to scrutiny, the charges would be transparent, not so with the estate management companies. Also local residents could be involved in saying what the space should achieve, again not so with estate managements.

  6. Dawn LakeyDawn Lakey

    The green spaces on the new build developments should be adopted by the council so that the areas are looked after properly and not by a private company who are not accountable to any authority for keeping up any standards in order for the public to enjoy these open spaces safely or for nature to thrive or be protected. Some areas are just left as mud and gravel.

  7. Ian riceIan rice

    How about having these green spaces on new build estates adopted by the councils ?so ordinary people are not having to pay the estate fees and also their council tax on top ! It is extortionate and wrong in so many ways and is putting people into financial hardship and nothing but stress for the future which will have a profound affect on their mental health and their well being !

  8. Cathy PriestleyCathy Priestley

    As a co-ordinator of Home Owners Rights which is campaigning against privately owned and managed green spaces on new build estates, I would say that the newly created green spaces created on these developments must be put forward for adoption in order for build quality and maintenance to be up to a decent standard. Instead of the estate residents paying for its upkeep, the whole local community which benefits from it should contribute. Central government should make the provision of quality outdoor spaces a statutory requirement and financially support councils to provide and maintain them. The public health benefits far outweigh the costs.

  9. Bridget MurphyBridget Murphy

    “Research commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity and the HomeOwners Alliance, and polled by YouGov”….

    On the face if it, this is a positive article. Most of us value, more than ever, being close to nature. Most want to value the existing green environment and want to preserve it and live within it, or close to it.

    The last part of the article is quite concerning.
    The Home Owners Alliance would have us believe many people dream of a newbuild home and a healthier lifestyle in a “less manicured” green environment. It doesn’t acknowledge that this plays into the hands of developers who are successfully lobbying the government to be able to build huge estates on Greenfield – and Greenbelt? – rather than Brownfield land.

    And, given that most of these estates are now unadopted and force homebuyers to pay a “private estate” maintenance fee as well as full council tax, why are the Home Owners Alliance not campaigning to end this practice, which would surely benefit ripped-off homebuyers?

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