Headlines: February 1st, 2005

People in Britain value parks as community assets in the same way that they regard good neighbourhood schools, according to a study released today. It has been produced by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which says it will use the findings to advise senior council staff and other people responsible for parks.The study, ‘Parks and Squares: who cares?’ lists the top ten things people like and dislike about parks. It is supported by new research from MORI showing that 91 per cent of people believe public parks and open spaces improve their quality of life and that 74 per cent believe being able to use a park is important to their general health.

The top ten advantages of parks includes offering opportunities to relax, escape city life and experience nature as well as being places to exercise and where children can play. The dislikes include the litter, dog mess and vandalism.

The study has analysed comments from thousands of signatories to the CABE Space Manifesto for Better Public Spaces, which was launched at the Sustainable Communities summit in Manchester. Two thousand members of the public and 400 organisations, including the Greater London Authority, the Eden Project, Foster and Partners, English Heritage, the Ramblers’ Association, the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Trust, the Royal Parks and the RSPB have signed up to the Manifesto. Together they represent a membership of more than 4.5 million people.

Julia Thrift, Director of CABE Space, said the responses to the Manifesto had given an insight into what people felt about their parks and it was clear that many placed a high value on parks and green spaces as community assets. “As a result of this evidence CABE will be advising local authority chief executives and other organisations and individuals with responsibility for parks. The opinions expressed give us the knowledge that, together with the MORI research, will help us to better inform them about how parks are viewed by users,” she said.