What is a National Park City?

London National Park City is a community-grassroots movement celebrating and supporting action by the millions of people in their community, in their business and profession.

A National Park City is inspired by the family of National Parks but is not the same as a National Park.

The working definition is a “A large urban area that is managed and semi-protected through both formal and informal means to enhance the natural capital of its living landscape. A defining feature is the widespread and significant commitment of residents, visitors and decision-makers to allow natural processes to provide a foundation for a better quality of life” (2015).

The National Park City Foundation is currently leading a piece of work to agree an international definition and typology for a National Park City.

The UK’s National Parks are mostly in rural areas, often with spectacular natural beauty, where people work together to protect natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. In England and Wales they aim to:

  • Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of their special qualities by the public
  • Conserve and enhance their natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage,and
  • Seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within them

A National Park City recognises the value of urban life, habitats, landscapes, people and culture, and seeks to apply similar purposes to a whole city.

Just like in a rural National Park, a National Park City consists of a landscape as well as a vision, partnership and a community of people working together to look after and improve it. Unlike a rural National Park, the London National Park City does not have a traditional single top-down authority. Instead, it has a partnership and a large number of contributors. In London’s case this could become millions of people.




What will the London National Park City do?

In short, the London National Park City will work with residents, visitors and partners to:

  1. Enjoy London’s great outdoors more
  2. Make the city greener, healthier and wilder
  3. Promote London’s identity as a National Park City

Or, in a few more words, it will help people to:

  1. Enjoy London’s great outdoors more - Connecting more people to nature and the outdoor culture, improving health, well-being and social cohesion.
  2. Make the city greener, healthier and wilder - Creating more high quality green and blue space, making London over 50% green and blue, delivering improvements for wildlife, people’s enjoyment and an attractive and sustainable environment for visiting, living and working in.
  3. Promote London’s identity as a National Park City - Helping residents and visitors to appreciate its value and potential for a rich cultural life anchored in its outdoor heritage.

It will also work to link people to the national and international family of national parks and other protected areas.

It will do this by:

  1. Leading inspiring campaigns
  2. Growing a movement
  3. Supporting and coordinating action

By taking inspiration from National Park purposes, the London National Park City will bring a focus to many of its most urgent and long-term challenges.

  • The city will be greener, with a greater diversity of natural wild spaces, improving air quality and the standards of everyday life for residents and visitors
  • More children – and adults - will enjoy play, recreational and learning experiences outdoors, with a positive impact on physical and mental health
  • Communities will plan and create greener and bluer neighbourhoods, connecting with each other and with where they live, work and play
  • More planted and green space will reduce flood risk and increase resilience, as well as enhancing its biodiversity
  • Visitors and residents will make use of a network of existing and new community groups and businesses, which provide exciting and diverse outdoors activities and experiences, enabling citizens to experience the natural world more easily and fully
  • London will become more distinctive as a city, attracting more visitors, investment and interesting activities and businesses of all kinds, boosting its economy and its global brand.

London faces a range of challenges in the 21st century: air and water quality (with close to 10,000 premature deaths a year caused by air pollution); threats to protected green spaces; fewer children having access to outdoor play and learning; growing childhood obesity and poor adult mental and physical health; inequality and isolation; and poor community cohesion.  

A new way of thinking and acting, and revitalising our city’s relationship with its natural environment, is at the heart of what creating a National Park City will do.

How will it work in practice?

A new London National Park City Partnership will be formed of groups and organisations before the launch of London National Park City in 2019.

Its approach will be to:

  • Lead campaigns that drive demand for good practices
  • Galvanise a movement with a shared vision
  • Inspire activities that contribute to its aims, acting as a catalyst
  • Join up activity and thinking, at a city-wide scale
  • Increase investment into National Park City related activities
  • Promote and share practice and knowledge sharing, amplifying existing activity and extending benefits

The Partnership will be led by a steering group and governed by a London National Park City Charter. The Partnership will agree an Action Plan on a regular basis that will set out key activities that need to be delivered and progress will be monitored by a State of the National Park City Report.

The initiative will extend beyond environmental organisations, and include families, artists, sports clubs, government agencies, community groups, writers, councils, housing associations, schools, and many other diverse organisations and individuals to develop, extend and maintain activities and green spaces in localities, connecting with each other across London.

The National Park City Foundation is an independent charity that has been formed to help make the London National Park City a success and to champion the National Park City concept. It will also support local action by helping to raise and direct funds and investment, helping Londoners to scale-up their activities and to fill in gaps where there is a lack of community action or support.

Can you summarise the aims?

The London National Park City will work with residents, visitors and partners to:

  1. Enjoy London’s great outdoors more
  2. Make the city greener, healthier and wilder
  3. Promote London’s identity as a National Park City.


Is the London National Park City led by the Mayor of London?

We are delighted to have the support of the Mayor of London. The Mayor has championed the National Park City in his Environment Strategy,  provided £9m to support National Park City activities and aligned policies to ours including matching our target of making 50% of London physically green. His team is also leading on the coordination and promotion of London National Park City Week, with over 250 events taking place across the capital.

The Mayor of London is showing great leadership on the National Park City, but the Greater London Authority is just one of over 9 million potential leaders in the capital. We hope that many people, groups and organisations will take inspiration from the London National Park City and take leadership in their own places. Many already are and this can be as simple as making a balcony, garden or street a little more green, healthy, enjoyable, edible or wild.

What is the London National Park City Charter?

The London National Park City is a vision, movement and partnership as well as a place. The London National Park City Charter sits at the heart of these elements.

The Charter will be a short document that sets out our Partnership’s vision, aims, values and an action plan. While some of it will be set in stone, the action plan will be updated on a regular basis by the Partnership’s members. Individuals and small community groups as well as larger organisations will be able to influence both the action plan and other sections of the Charter.

The original London National Park City proposal included a draft Charter. The first Charter of the London National Park City will be shorter and designed so that anyone can pick it up and see how they can both contribute to and benefit from the National Park City.


What is the State of the National Park City Report?

Our mission is to improve life in London.

The State of the National Park City Report will be the way to track our collective progress toward achieving this.

We plan to publish a regular State of the National Park City Report that will reveal data on our objectives. This report will be used to inform the London National Park City Partnership’s progress, decision making and activities.

These may include:

  • air quality
  • water quality
  • water management
  • Biodiversity
  • bioabundance
  • volunteering
  • local food growing
  • walking
  • cycling
  • kayaking
  • people’s connection to nature
  • outdoor learning in schools
  • key physical health outcomes
  • key mental health outcomes
  • investment and employment in National Park City related ventures
  • community engagement with the National Park City related activities
  • funding leveraged for the related sectors

OK, so this is a great idea. But how will it work in practice?

The London National Park City will be delivered by volunteers and a partnership of groups and organisations with the support of the National Park City Foundation, the charity that has been established to help make the London National Park City a success.

The London National Park City Partnership will inspire, catalyse, support, join-up and spread best practice through knowledge sharing. The initiative will draw in sports clubs, community groups, schools, and other  organisations as well as individuals to develop, extend and maintain activities and green spaces in localities, connecting with each other across London. For example, there will be a ‘Bank of Ideas’ to share inspirations and best practice across organisations and activities.

The National Park City Foundation will also support local action by helping to raise and direct funds and investment which local projects often lack, and by helping Londoners to scale-up their activities and to fill in gaps where there is a lack of community action or support.


How will London National Park City benefit my area?

The London National Park City will be made successful by leadership at a local level. May it be on a balcony, in a garden, on your street, park, rooftop or local river, we can all be leaders in improving London’s environment and getting more people outdoors and connected to nature. So do take inspiration from London becoming a National Park City and start doing things to make your local area better.


A network will be created from London’s existing dynamic and diverse organisations, making it easier for you to enjoy getting outdoors and giving you more choice of activities and locations. Each London borough and ward has a distinctive character which can be developed further by those who live, work and play in it – some have waterways or woodlands to explore, others green spaces, or the opportunity to develop green roofs, micro-parks or urban farming. It will also create new sustainable business opportunities as companies and people make the most of the area’s improved natural assets and resources.

How will London National Park City be funded?

The London National Park City is a vision that all Londoners can contribute to. Residents and visitors can both enjoy and contribute to the London National Park City without the need for any funding.

The National Park City Foundation is the charity that has been established to help make the London National Park City a success. No funding is being asked for from London's councils or central government. The National Park City Foundation will be funded through a mixture of private giving, corporate giving and corporate services.

The Foundation will start off as a small organisation and grow over time. Eventually it may cost around £4 million a year to run. This is about the cost of running a rural National Park or a medium-sized secondary school. It is £3 million a year less than Santander is spending on sponsoring London's bike hire scheme.

How will becoming a National Park City affect building, especially housing?

London will continue to grow, develop and be a dynamic city with local councils and the Mayor of London using their formal planning powers to decide what gets built, where and how.

Being a National Park City presents the opportunity to create and construct green infrastructure and services, creating the more sustainable future London and Londoners need. Creating quality new affordable housing is a priority in London. Being a National Park City will encourage the creation of more sustainable, better connected, denser, greener, higher quality housing in London with more cohesive communities and networks and with a stronger and greener sense of place.

Read more about our position on planning and development here.

What planning powers will the London National Park City have?

None, directly.

London being a National Park City does not bring the kind of planning powers the UK’s other National Parks have. London National Park City would not directly control development or prepare planning policies. These powers would remain with the Greater London Authority, the 32 London boroughs, and the City of London Corporation. Being a National Park City will not add another layer of bureaucracy to decision-making in London.

As the Mayor of London and most local council wards support the London National Park City, they may choose to use their planning policies to support our shared aims. A good example of this is an aim we share with the Mayor’s target to make 50% of London physically green by 2050.

Read more about our position on planning and development here.


What’s the difference between the London National Park City, the London National Park City Partnership and the National Park City Foundation?

The London National Park City is a place, a vision and a movement of people working towards its aims. It will be guided by a London National Park City Charter.

Drawn from our much larger network of organisations, the London National Park City Partnership comprises groups and organisations that are working together to make the London National Park City successful and to improve life in the city.

The London National Park City Partnership comprises groups and organisations drawn from a much larger collaborative network, giving leadership and direction to the London National Park City.

The National Park City Foundation is the charity established to inspire, galvanise and support residents and visitors to make the capital radically more green, healthy, wild, beautiful, resilient, enjoyable and prosperous. It will do this through identifying, spreading, catalysing, joining-up and scaling-up best practices and opportunities. It also facilitates the London National Park City Partnership.

The National Park City Foundation is a charity established in 2017 to facilitate and oversee the London National Park City Partnership.

When will London become a National Park City?

London will be launched as a National Park City during a season of events that will begin on May 1st 2019 and run through the summer.

After four years of campaigning it was confirmed on 9th February 2018 that sufficient political support had been achieved to make London a National Park City.

OK, sounds good!  How can I be kept up to date? Is there more I can do?

Click here, and get involved!





 

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