Over 2.5 million people across Great Britain are more than ten minutes walk away from a park or green space, according to new research from the charity Fields in Trust.
The charity has developed the Green Space Index which, for the first time uses Ordnance Survey data to comprehensively analyse park and green space provision across Great Britain.
The Green Space Index shows that although Britain has a total of 216,160 hectares of publicly accessible local parks and green spaces (about one and a half times the size of London), less that 6% of this space (smaller than the London Borough of Bromley) is legally protected with Fields in Trust.
With public sector cuts leading to pressure on parks and green spaces, there is the risk that a lack of legal protection could lead to more being sold off or developed.
With previous Fields in Trust research demonstrating clear health and wellbeing benefits from regular use of parks and green spaces, the charity is concerned that a large number of people who don't have a park or green space nearby could miss out on these benefits.
it is also likely that any future loss of parks and green spaces will disproportionately impact disadvantaged and underrepresented communities.
The charity is highlighting the urgent need to secure and maintain the parks and green spaces we currently have and wants local government and landowners to take steps to legally protect parks and green spaces they own.
The Green Space Index also ranks Britain's regions and nations against a minimum standard of park and green space provision.
The Index finds that London, Yorkshire & the Humber and the North West and the North East all fall well below the minimum level, with the East Midlands providing exactly the minimum.
England as a whole falls just below the minimum provision but in contrast, Scotland tops the Green Space Index. It both provides more green space per person than any other part of in Great Britain (45.86 square metres per person) and has the most legally protected green space (2,143 hectares).
The average amount of green space per person in Great Britain is just over 35 square metres, less than half the size of a six-yard box on a football pitch.
Angela Lewis, Head of Programmes at Fields in Trust, said: "Parks and green spaces are much-loved by people and provide many benefits to society. But our new Green Space Index shows, for the first time, that there is insufficient access to parks and green spaces and that far too few are legally protected, leaving those unprotected vulnerable to loss or development. "It is concerning that millions of people across the country find themselves with not a single park or green space within a ten-minute walk.
It is also worrying that many regions across the country are failing to meet even basic standards of provision.
"These findings show that there is an urgent need to ensure the current level of park and green space provision is maintained and review what more can be done to legally protect them for future generations to enjoy."
The Green Space Index is the first time that park and green space provision in Great Britain has been comprehensively analysed.
Fields in Trust plan to update the Index on a regular basis, which will allow the charity to track changes in green space provision in the future.
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