London, 27th April 2016

Experts call for London to be declared a National Park City

Over 70 health, conservation, education and culture experts have signed an open letter to London's elected councillors calling for them to back a campaign to make London a National Park City.

 Former Director-General of the National Trust Dame Fiona Reynolds, artist Sir Antony Gormley, nature writer Robert Macfarlane and public health advisor GP Dr. William Bird MBE are just a few of the high profile experts who believe the move will improve Londoners health, quality of life and environment.

 “London being a National Park City would bring the greatest improvements in the quality of life in London since the clean-up after the great stink or since the Victorians started planting our great trees and beautiful public parks.

 Making London a National Park City is all about making our capital a healthier, greener and more enjoyable place to live. London has all the ingredients it needs to make this happen - the people, land, nature and expertise. All that's missing is the critical support of more elected councillors to give the National Park City a legitimate mandate. We hope that this letter will inspire councils and elected ward teams to declare their support for this potentially historic move."

The open letter has been posted to all ward teams that are yet to declare their support for London to become a National Park City. Londoners can help the campaign by asking their local councillors to back the campaign too.

Dear Representatives,

We need your support to make London the world’s first National Park City.

For London to be declared a National Park City, two-thirds of London’s 654 wards and the Mayor of London must declare their support. 180 wards have already given their backing, but a further 256 wards are needed. As experts in health, education, conservation, business, culture and planning, we would like your help to turn this vision into a reality.

The benefits are clear. From children’s development to improved physical and mental health, active engagement with nature is key to a better quality of life for Londoners. Greener infrastructure can lead to cleaner air and improved flood protection. 47% of London is already physically green; its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage are part of the capital’s global reputation and attraction to visitors.

Traditional National Park status in the UK aims to "conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area" and "promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public".  Why not take these aims and apply them to the whole of London? That is the essence of this initiative; to create a new kind of National Park - a National Park City. This has the potential to dramatically improve the way we experience and engage with this great city.

A Greater London National Park City would not seek to appropriate any formal planning powers, and will not add new layers of bureaucracy. It would be a privately funded charitable foundation that far from being a drain on the public purse, would actually be a net contributor in a number of ways. It has the potential to ease the strain on our NHS, increase productivity, spur innovation and inspire new business activities.

A National Park City would build on what is already happening, by linking existing actions and activities, sharing the things that work, inspiring new initiatives and engaging the public like never before. It would help to reinvigorate the relationship between people and place, helping us all make the most of what the city has to offer.

We, the signatories to this letter, wholeheartedly endorse the positive vision set out in the Greater London National Park City proposal (see http://www.nationalparkcity.london/).

According to research by Lancaster University 9 in 10 Londoners think that making London a National Park City is a good idea, and 8 in 10 think it is something that London’s councils should support. It also features within key recommendations set out by the Green Infrastructure Task Force.

Please join 180 council wards, and Sadiq Khan, Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry in supporting this shared vision for London. We need all councillors in your ward to unanimously agree to declare the support of your ward. To see which wards have already backed the campaign, and to add your ward’s support please visit http://www.nationalparkcity.london/ward_support.

Together we can make London a greener, healthier and fairer place to live. Together we can make London a National Park City.

Yours faithfully,

Daniel Raven-Ellison, Geographer, National Geographic Emerging Explorer
Professor Dame Henrietta Moore, Director, Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL
Sir Terry Farrell, Principal, Farrells
Sir Antony Gormley OBE, Artist
Dame Fiona Reynolds
Richard Fitzgerald, Headteacher, Langdon Park School
Professor Michael Depledge, Chair of Environmental and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School
Trevor Sandwith, Director, Global Protected Areas Programme, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Pip McKerrow, Chief Commissioner, Girlguiding London and South East England
David Lambert, Professor of Geography Education, UCL Institute of Education
Beth Collier, Nature-based Psychotherapist
Paul Griffiths, Salomon UK Brand Manager
Dr. Wayne Hemingway MBE, Designer 
Dr. William Bird MBE, CEO, Intelligent Health
Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive, London Wildlife Trust 
Alastair Humphreys, Adventurer
Ivan Levin, Senior Director, Outdoor Foundation
Juana Mariño Drews, Architect
Chúk Odenigbo, Environmental Champion
Catherine Nash, Professor of Geography, Queen Mary University of London
George Monbiot, Journalist and campaigner
Neil Maiden, Professor of Digital Creativity, Cass Business School, City University London
Peter Jenkinson OBE, Cultural Broker
Judy Ling Wong CBE, Honorary President, Black Environment Network
Muki Haklay, Professor of Geographical Information Science, UCL
Ben Rogers, Director, Centre for London
Will Self, Writer
Anson Mackay, Professor in Environmental Change, Vice-Dean for Research, UCL
Dr. Digby Whyte, CEO, World Urban Parks
Neil McCarthy, Deputy Chair, World Urban Parks
Dr. Christy Boylan, Landscape Consultant, World Urban Parks
Dr. Bradley Garrett, Human Geographer, University of Southampton
Dr. Ben King, Teacher of Geography
Dr. Stephen Head, Garden Biodiversity Expert, Wildlife Gardening Forum
Tim Nickles, Director, WILD Cities
Professor David Goode, Former Head of Environment at the Greater London Authority
Rebecca Bell, Lecturer & PhD Researcher, Royal College of Art and University of Hertfordshire
Dr. Philippa Williams. Senior Lecturer in Geography, Queen Mary University of London
Dr. Menah Raven-Ellison, Senior Occupational Therapist
Zachary R. Dulli, CEO, National Council for Geographic Education
E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity, University of Oxford
Dr. Ted Trzyna, President, InterEnvironment Institute
Dave Morris, Chair, London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network
Helen Meech, Director, Rewilding Britain
Mark Sears, Chief Wild Officer, The Wild Network
Helen Griffiths, Chief Executive, Fields in Trust
Joe Smith, Professor of Environment and Society, The Open University
Paul Hocker, Development Director, London Play
Paul Hyman, Founder Director Active360
Tim Webb, Conservationist
Jenny Pickerill, Professor of Environmental Geography, University of Sheffield
Alex Brooks-Johnson, Chief Executive, Wide Horizons The Adventure Learning Charity
Professor Edward Truch, Director, National Park Research Centre and Lancaster University Management School
Dr. Martin Zaltz Austwick, Lecturer, CASA, UCL
Dr. Georgiana Varna, Research Fellow in Urban Studies, University of Glasgow 
Dr. Jim Walsh, CEO, Conway Hall
Dr. Alison Prendiville, University of the Arts London
Paul de Zylva, Head of Nature, Friends of the Earth
Dr. Julie Futcher, Architect
Dr. Robert Macfarlane, Writer and Academic
Katie Willis, Professor of Human Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London
Dr. Sara Jones, Senior lecturer, City University
Richard Lindsay, Head of Environmental and Conservation Research, University of East London
Paul Rose, Explorer and Broadcaster
Ben Smith, Director of Sustainable Development, Aecom
Dr. Tony Juniper, Environmentalist, Campaigner and Writer
Theo Thomas, London Waterkeeper
Dean Jefferys, Regional Commissioner for London, The Scout Association
Andy Mitchell CBE, CEO, Tideway
Ciaran Biggins, Co-Founder & Director, MindFood CIC
Alex Tambourides, CEO, Hammersmith and Fulham Mind
Andrew Denton, CEO, Outdoor Industries Association

Notes: 

For London to become a National Park City, two-thirds of London’s 654 wards and the Mayor of London must declare their support. 180 of 436 required wards have already declared their support and Mayor of London candidates Sadiq Khan, Zac Goldsmith, Caroline Pidgeon, Sian Berry and George Galloway have all given their backing. The support of all councillors representing a further 256 wards is needed for London to achieve the new status.

The London National Park City would not seek to appropriate any formal planning powers, and will not add new layers of bureaucracy. It would be a privately funded charitable foundation that far from being a drain on the public purse, would actually be a net contributor in a number of ways. It has the potential to ease the strain on our NHS, increase productivity, spur innovation and inspire new business activities. 

Londoners and London councillors are invited to declare their support on the campaign's website http://www.nationalparkcity.london.

National Parks England Policy Position on the London National Park City proposal:

Relevant recommendations relating to the London National Park City:

A special National Park City public event is currently being planned to take place for 2,700 people at the Royal Festival Hall on the evening of September 21 2016.

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