Log in | Register

‘Green paper’ suggests that London becomes National Park City

Words: Laura Edgar

As London’s population - and the demand for affordable housing and development increases - the city must also have more and better quality public realm, says ‘guerrilla geographer’ Daniel Raven-Ellison.

Following visits to each of the UK’s national parks as part of his work as a National Geographic emerging explorer, Daniel Raven-Ellison explains in his green paper, Greater London National Park City, that he noticed something was missing from “our beautiful family of national parks".

Urban areas of England, which account for 10 per cent of the country, can be more “ecologically diverse, rich and valuable than countryside”. Therefore Greater London National Park City proposes to make Greater London the world’s first National Park City, putting forward a potential model to test.

Speaking to The Planner, Raven-Ellison said the model does not call for new planning controls or more administrative layers, and it won’t have any statutory planning powers.

“The green paper is not intended to become a lobbying group; we want the paper to go out to Londoners and let them decide, and we want councils to join us.

"If we get the support of the people of London, we will push on."

Greater London National Park City green paper statistics

• 14 per cent of London is occupied by roads

• 9 per cent of the city is taken up by domestic buildings

• 47 per cent is “a patchwork of green space” including:

- 3.8 million gardens

- 3,000 parks

- 30,000 allotments

- 300 farms

- 13,000 species of wildlife living in Greater London

Greater London National Park City has several key aims, including:

• Connect 100 per cent of Greater London’s children to nature

- Current initiatives to connect children with nature “reach as few as 4 per cent”.

• Grow London’s green space from 47 per cent to 51 per cent by 2051

- 24 per cent of London is made up of private gardens, and an estimated one third of these are paved over. The wish is to inspire Londoners to increase the “quantity, health and diversity of London’s wildlife by improving and physically joining up habitats”.

• Increase visits to outer London by 10 per cent by 2025

- The Greater London National Park City will “champion tourism” to London’s alternative destinations, many of which are in outer London.

• Make Greater London a green ‘world city’

- Empower Londoners to secure and enhance “world-class accessible public realm”. Will become a model that can be replicated nationally and internationally.

• Foster a new shared identity

- Will create a “new layer of identity in the capital, that will bring Londoners together on common ground, and with shared aspirations”.

“People protect what they value” – green paper

Everyone, the paper states, will be able to be a member - individuals, businesses, statutory bodies, government and voluntary organisations - and it will be governed by a board of elected trustees.

Raven-Ellison says the idea is not as radical as it seems. “I’m a geographer who believes in place-making. This takes a conservative model of the national park and transposes it onto a city. It might seem radical but cities have green spaces, wildlife and habitats.

“It has the potential to transform the way people think about place-making. The only radical thing about this is that the model is from a rural setting.”

The green paper is currently out for consultation until May 19: www.GreaterLondonNationalPark.org.uk