Unsurprisingly, this immediately generated a lot of attention. But how exactly would it work? City Hall has set aside a £9m ‘greener city fund’ to help improve green spaces for communities. The aim is for 50% of the capital’s area to be green by 2050. Considering that 47% of the capital is currently listed as green space, these ambitious plans should be achievable with enough public support.
As the Mayor has outlined, the idea of a ‘national park city’ is centred around taking a holistic approach to green spaces and environmental concerns in the city. A central part of the plan is about protecting and increasing the number of parks and green spaces in the city. But it is also about using planning regulations to protect the green belt, and to ensure new developments have more green roofs and rain gardens. There are even ambitious plans to have more green walls, covered in vines, mosses and grasses. An added benefit is the significant impact this will have on air quality, one of the Mayor’s main policy priorities.
The plans are also about protecting wildlife and biodiversity across the capital, the value of which should not be underestimated. London is famed the world over as a city where you can see wild deer, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, swans, peacocks, herons, stalks, kingfishers and even pelicans all within a decidedly urban environment. Becoming a national park city will help protect this biodiversity, including valuable butterflies, bees and other insects that play such a vital role as pollinators.
Paul Hamblin, Executive Director of National Parks England has hailed the idea, saying that London may be different from the traditional landscape associated with national parks, but this initiative will draw on the principles applied so successfully in national parks, and apply them to an urban environment to bring benefits to residents and visitors alike.
Indeed, from a business perspective, there is a very strong case to be made for this innovative initiative. Better conservation, more access to green spaces and better contact with nature has proven benefits for health and wellbeing, that will have a knock-on effect for productivity in the city. This initiative is also expected to make the city more attractive to visitors, which will boost tourism and business tourism in the capital, therefore also benefiting the economy.
London is already a cultural hub that has many leisure offerings that support an event organisers’ decision to host their event in the Capital. The accolade of being the world’s first national park city will only increase this attractiveness and draw in further visitors for business and leisure.