Whoever wins the London Mayoral election, or indeed anyone holding a political position covering the capital after this May’s vote, should be aware 88% of Londoners agree politicians should promote the London National Park City to make our capital greener, healthier and wilder.

Millfields Park Hackney c Hackney Council copy

London National Park City "Aster" mown into the grass at Millfields Park. Photo courtesy of Hackney Council.

London National Park City commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey of a  representative sample of the Capital’s communities in March and April this year. Later this year, we will be reviewing politicians progress in delivering against their manifestos, especially commitments to improving green and public spaces.

  • YouGov’s survey records the expectations and desires of Londoners, with 94% of Londoners wanting our parks, public gardens, waterways and open spaces protected. More than just protection, they want our shared spaces to be of a high quality, to attract diverse users and to be safe.
  • Increasing London’s green, blue, public and wild open spaces and improving the quality, safety and diversity of existing spaces is important to 89% of participants.
  • 87% want politicians to use London’s National Park City status and identity to inspire more people to get outdoors to enjoy London’s open spaces.
  • 84% of respondents agree politicians should create a London National Park City strategy linking transport, health, education and the environment.

By adopting and delivering the five key returns above (in bold text), politicians will reduce air pollution, boost physical and mental health while reducing the burden on the NHS of treating conditions as diverse as asthma, depression, diabetes and obesity, simultaneously addressing public levels of anxiety and stress.

Ensuring the quality of existing green spaces and parks is improved and that new spaces of equal quality are created (and that all of it is maintained) will boost nature, making London more attractive for wildlife and people. Our air and waterways would be cleaner and there would be space for urban food production.

All of this would create new jobs and encourage creativity to develop new technologies, occupations and opportunities benefitting Londoners and local economies, reducing our dependency on some imported goods and services.

Quality of life burned brightly in the results, but safety in parks and public spaces concerned many survey participants, especially those who have experienced sexual, racial or other harassment or assault in public places.

003. NHS c Paul Meyler

Photo credit Paul Meyler.

Londoners want walking, running and cycling routes through and around the capital, linked with clean and efficient public transport. They want parks and gardens full of buzzing pollinators, colourful plants and singing birds. It should not be a surprise to see hedgehogs on their nightly rambles; clouds of starlings coming to roost in our parks and on our commons; or seals basking on the tidal beaches of the Thames along the Southbank.

Politicians at City Hall and in local authorities have been sent the details of our survey and have been urged to act on the findings. Voters of all ages and backgrounds were keen to see the adoption of long-term strategies for green space encompassing transport, education, health and energy.

London National Park City is one of the many organisations supporting A More Natural Capital campaign, with a shared agenda for change published in December 2020. The findings of the YouGov survey reflect public expectations underpinning our collective call for politicians to put nature at the centre of planning for the capital’s future.

It is time to recognise the important role our green and blue spaces play as vital components of public infrastructure and to invest in them accordingly. Anyone serious about meeting the UK Government’s commitment of slashing emissions 78% by 2035 cannot do it without this approach.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1051 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th March and 1st April 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+).

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