Written Evidence – The Gardens Trust (PTC0013)

 

Introduction to the Gardens Trust

 

The Gardens Trust is the only UK national charity dedicated to protecting and conserving our heritage of designed landscapes. We campaign on their behalf, undertake research and conservation work, and encourage public appreciation and involvement. We work with communities across the country, particularly through the national network of County and Country Garden Trusts.

The Gardens Trust is a statutory consultee in the English planning system. This means that local authorities have to consult us on any planning applications that affect gardens and landscapes listed on Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest. We are always happy to discuss proposals with owners, developers or local people in order to get the best outcome. The Gardens Trust is supported in this important conservation role by local County Garden Trusts.

We are passionate about sharing our love of landscapes with the wider community, through campaigns such as Sharing Repton: Historic Landscapes for All and our volunteer capacity building Historic Landscape Project.

We work closely with the Welsh Historic Parks and Gardens Trust and Scotland’s Garden and Landscape Heritage, who fulfil a similar role in their countries.

 

Our reason for submitting evidence

 

The Gardens Trust is committed to both the conservation of historic parks and gardens, and to ensuring that their benefits can be enjoyed by all communities. This of course includes urban green spaces. Lockdowns and restrictions on movement and social interaction have made these all the more valuable and appreciated. The impact of Covid-19 on green spaces and freedom of access to them has been of great concern to us. It has provided much of the material for our collaborative theme of ‘Unforgettable Gardens’, which focuses on the value of historic open space but also the threats to it - Unforgettable Gardens - The Gardens Trust.

 


Submission of evidence on the long-term impact of the pandemic on housing and green spaces’, specifically green spaces

 

  1. What is the long-term impact of the pandemic likely to be on housing and green spaces in towns and cities?

-          Organisations with green space in their portfolio are looking to save costs at a financially challenging time by reducing maintenance expenditure.

-          Green space providers are losing the commercial income they have been encouraged to rely on to meet ongoing costs (eg events, secondary spend).

-          We expect to see increased development threat as organisations owning green space look to rebuild depleted funds with the sale or development of part of the land.

-          Many sites had growth, sustainability and resilience plans devised to secure their future in uncertain times that have been thrown into disarray and may now be either unviable or inadequate.

-          The answer lies in ensuring the safeguarding of green space and provision of adequate funding for its protection and survival.

 

  1. How might this increase, or decrease, inequalities within towns and cities?
  1. Physical health, mental wellbeing and life satisfaction are all enhanced through access to and use of parks and green spaces.
  2. Parks create important opportunities for social integration.
  3. Parks provide opportunities for community engagement and local residents value the chance to be involved in designing and improving their green spaces.
  4. Parks and green spaces highlight inequalities in society.
  5. Parks and green spaces enable people to connect with nature, which in turn brings benefits in terms of wellbeing.
  6. There are economic benefits of parks and green spaces.

It is clear that reduced access to quality green space results in lower community wellbeing than those with better access.

 

  1. How might this increase, or decrease, inequalities between towns and cities?
    Different towns and cities have different financial situations, make different funding decisions, and have different green space to support. This will inevitably mean that green space access will vary from town to town, resulting in the communities of some towns having better access to quality green space and its associated benefits than others, in the way described in question 2. Government needs to ‘level up’ to ensure that the weakest are not disadvantaged.
     
  2. What action is needed from the UK Government, town and cities leaders, and others to mitigate the risk of any increasing inequalities?

 

  1. How could the UK Government, town and cities leaders, and others use their response to the pandemic to reduce inequalities in housing and green spaces?

 

1 July 2021