Published by Policy Exchange in 2013.
This report calls for the establishment of a freely-available national map of the UK’s urban green spaces. At present, a lack of standardised, accurate, detailed and openly accessible data is a barrier to developing innovative ways of funding, developing and maintaining parks, in the light of steep cuts in local authority funding. Without it, efforts to improve the UK’s urban green spaces are likely to continue to be piecemeal, poorly directed, insufficient and more expensive than they need to be.
Policymakers need to find new ways to ensure our green spaces thrive. This means taking advantage of new technology, pushing for more data about our urban spaces to be released, and harnessing the appetite of civil society to improve urban spaces.
• Local authority spending on open spaces has been cut by 38.7% in the North East, and 3.4% in the South East, with a major impact on the quantity and quality of parks where they are needed most.
• Existing data and mapping of urban green spaces is inconsistent, owned by a variety of bodies, and prohibitively expensive to access.
• The criteria for the proposed map are:
- Full public access
- Freely available
- Compatible with GIS software
- Consistent typology
- Links to wider information, such as quality
- Detailed enough to include small urban spaces
- Cover the whole of the UK
• A new online map which would crowd-source information from government, local authorities, NGOs and local communities, would
- Improve decision-making and facilitate research and testing
- Help planners ensure people in cities have adequate access to good quality green space and that public money is well spent
- Include green spaces that official sources miss
- Provide information on opening times, facilities and events
- Use ratings to compare parks
- Allow the public to comment on local green spaces
- Encourage existing and new volunteer community groups to improve the quality of their parks if councils fail to act
- Promote the sharing of clever and effective innovations
• An app would allow people to use their smart phones to upload pictures of graffiti, vandalism, dog fouling and disrepair, following the successful example of the Love Lewisham app.
You can read and download the report here.