I don’t think I need to spend a lot of time maundering on about how good parks and greenspace are for you. Nor do I need to spend a lot of time evidencing this in terms of the value of economic, social and environmental benefits delivered by greenspace. The case studies on the JSA website and our natural capital accounts for Barnet, Barking and Dagenham and Croydon speak for themselves.

But I am drawn to a line in the report for Croydon produced by our colleagues in eftec: ‘a proportionately higher rate of use of green spaces by AB socio-economic groups than by C2 and DE. The lower use by groups C2 and DE suggests there may be an opportunity to achieve public health outcomes by increasing their use of green space’. In other words, you’re more likely to live in a house next to a good park and enjoy a 50% lower risk of succumbing to a heart attack or a stroke through taking 20 minutes vigorous exercise in your local park if you are in the AB socio-economic group. 

Recent research in Shanghai has used mobile phone data to assess the impact of rapid population growth on access to greenspace for socially disadvantaged communities. The good news is that Shanghai’s disadvantaged groups are not found to be unequally treated now. The bad news is that recourse solely to ‘market mechanisms’ could significantly impact on this negatively. 

A parallel study in 10 US cities suggests that education and income level are significant determinants for ‘green inequality. Interesting food for thought when considering new urban developments such as Barking Riverside and Ebbsfleet where new communities with relatively high expectations in respect of access to greenspace (and the higher levels of wellbeing that this delivers) are superseding communities that are under-provided with good quality greenspace and the same potential benefits.