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​National Park City: Let’s make London greener, healthier and wilder

Blog post   •   Jul 22, 2019 13:41 BST

Strategic Relationship Manager Lorna Leach celebrates the day that London becomes the first National Park City in the world and demonstrates the importance of green and open spaces to London Sport's work to get more people active.

At 10:50am this morning (Monday 22 July) London will become the first National Park City in the world. It's a huge credit to the incredible vision of Dan Raven-Ellison. 

To celebrate this special occasion the Mayor of London’s National Park City festival invites Londoners to discover the capital’s amazing outdoor with hundreds of free events across the city, from outdoor fitness sessions and live performances to bee-keeping, open water and wilding events.

The festival takes place from the 20 to 28 July and a full list of all the activities can be found here.

Green space is incredibly important to Londoners, new research shows that a two hour dose of nature a week significantly boosts health and wellbeing. The findings were based on interviews with 20,000 people in England. 

In London, where 47% is open space and there are over 3,000 parks that means that - according to the Fields In Trust green space index - 8.13 million Londoners are within a ten-minute walk of green space.

However, it’s recognised that despite this readily available asset, not all Londoners are accessing the diverse, random and often incredibly beautiful spaces in London. 

National Park City Foundation are the charity established to promote the National Park City movement, following their successful campaign to win political and public support for making London a National Park City.

The Foundation is a movement that focuses on empowering residents, visitors and partners to enjoy London’s great outdoors more, make the city greener, healthier and wilder and promote London’s identity as a National Park City.

For everyone at London Sport, it is incredibly exciting to see all the ways Londoners can be active in outdoor space, including a simple walk, showcased over the timespan of the festival.

We’ve long recognised the benefits of green space on the physical and mental wellbeing of Londoners, knowing that activities in parks are often more accessible and relevant to the communities around them than the local leisure centre.

In the last few years we’ve supported various projects and programmes that use and develop outdoor spaces for Londoners to lead more active and healthy lives including:

  • Promoting walking groups and programmes through digital platforms to Londoners.
  • Supporting the local community in Barking and Dagenham to lobby policy holders and secure funding to develop the play space within Valence Park.
  • Supporting learn to cycle programme for families in Haringey.
  • Undertaking data analysis and provide insight to the LTA for using to develop their parks facilities development.
  • Hosting Street Tag as part of the second Sports Tech Hub cohort.
  • Provided insight and guidance to Our Parks on suitable locations for their pilot programme Turn Up Tone Up to put exercise classes into parks at the heart of the least active communities.
  • An active partner to the Camden and Islington Parks Accelerator programme launched last month.

As London continues to develop in its new role as a National Park City, we’ll continue to provide support and guidance to local authorities and community partners across London.

This will include working closely with Parks for London to develop park usage for physical activity purposes and the Port of London Authority to grow recreational usage on the Thames, Thames Estuary and Thames Path.

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