London: a National Park?

Thoughts and musings

London: a National Park?

Lewis | June 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

It may sound strange, farfetched or even downright ridiculous, but the reasons why form both a potent and cogent argument…

When one thinks of London, familiar territory may be the building-heavy skylines of Canary Wharf. But the capital isn’t as heavily built-up as you may think. In fact, as reported in an article by The Independent, ‘‘green space’ accounts for a staggering 47% of the area covered by the 33 boroughs of Greater London. The aforementioned green space isn’t being developed on; the pictured Hyde Park is an example, and the close-to-four million gardens also fall into this category.

Also found in The Guardianthis story is picking up pace, mainly in thanks to Daniel Raven-Ellison, the ex-geography teacher, who believes the perception of London should change. It has to be said, as well, with his opening gambit of the eight million trees in London making the city the largest urban forest in the world, he forms a persuasive argument.

The area percentage of green space makes the capital one of the world’s most greenest cities for its size. As a result, with all of this open area in Greater London, if it achieved national park status it would be able to tackle some of the problems that blight the city. These include obesity, mental health problems and it will also give growing importance to the outer boroughs, moving the focus spectrum away from the ‘bubble’ that is Central. More scope would be given to borough councils to help improve air quality and to help the cause of climate change. There are also great financial benefits, too; in general, national parks cost less then one pound per person per year, but in that year they can contribute more than £6bn to the economy.

This isn’t to say London would be operated like a traditional national park, such as the South Downs, for example, says Raven-Ellison. Of course, the city would have to stringently follow criteria set out by the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, as well as the 1995 Environmental Act. But London would be a new kind of national park with its own distinct definition. The more I read this, the more I agree with Raven-Ellison; the possibility is enormous and just because it is innovative in the field of taking on urban challenges doesn’t mean it cannot work.

It is a very interesting concept and the two articles from the two newspapers are linked above – click on them and give them a read. My personal opinion? Things aren’t going to change for the better overnight, but anything that can promote our country’s beautiful landscapes and improve the national environment and health shouldn’t be dismissed. What do you think? Leave us a comment in the section below.


Photo credit: <a href=””>Foter</a> / <a href=””>CC BY</a>