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WHAT'S TOPPING THE CHARTS IN OUR PUBLIC PARKS?

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A study* released today showing the top ten things people like and dislike about parks has revealed that British pe...
A study* released today showing the top ten things people like and dislike about parks has revealed that British people value their parks as community assets in the same way they do a good neighbourhood school.

The study, 'Parks and Squares: who cares?', is also backed up by the latest MORI research that shows 91 per cent of the public believe that public parks and open spaces improve their quality of life and that 74 per cent of people believe being able to use a park is important to their general health.

Among the top ten best things cited were the opportunities parks give to relax and escape city life, to experience nature, to exercise and to allow children and young people to play - a lack of litter picking, clearing of dog mess and repairing of vandalism are among the things people dislike most about parks.

CABE analysed the comments of thousands of signatories to CABE Space's Manifesto for Better Public Spaces to produce the study, which was launched at the Sustainable Communities summit in Manchester yesterday.

Two thousand members of the public and 400 organisations, including the Greater London Authority, the Eden Project, English Heritage, the Ramblers' Association, the Royal Horticultural Society, the National Trust, the Royal Parks, the RSPB and architects Foster and Partners, signed up to the Manifesto and were asked what they liked and disliked about parks. Together they represent a membership of more than 4.5 million people.

Julia Thrift, director of CABE Space, said:

'The response to our Manifesto has presented us with an insight into what the British public feel about their parks. What is clear is that many people place an extremely high value on parks and green spaces as neighbourhood assets. The MORI research also shows us that people believe, quite adamantly, that parks have a beneficial effect on their physical and mental well-being.

'As a result of this evidence CABE will be advising local authority chief executives and other organisations and individuals with responsibility for parks. The opinions expressed give us the knowledge that, together with the MORI research, will help us to better inform them about how parks are viewed by users.'

Signing the government up to the Manifesto and launching the report, Phil Hope, minister at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, said:

'Parks and open spaces are a vital ingredient to the recipe that makes a sustainable community - places where people can relax, exercise and play. As part of our drive to create cleaner, safer, greener communities, the government is committed to delivering high quality green space.

'The support for the manifesto shows that this commitment is shared by many different people and organisations and I would call on them to help us continue to make this happen. Through our proposals, outlined in our five year plan, 'People, Places and Prosperity', we want everyone to not only say how they feel about their area but be able to play a clear and active role in deciding what actually happens.'

Adding his signature to the manifesto, mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:

'I agree that the long-term management of public spaces is an increasingly important political priority and critical to the sustainable communities agenda. The contribution to health, the economy and the liveability of London cannot be underestimated. I am delighted to offer my support to CABE Space's Manifesto for Better Public Spaces.'

* The report is available here.

Notes

The manifesto survey top tens lists are as follows:

Top ten best things about parks:

1. They are community assets

2. They are places to relax and escape

3. They are great for recreation and exercise

4. They are places to experience nature

5. They are well designed

6. They are good for children and young people

7. They are kept clean and safe

8. They are green spaces

9. They provide a sense of open space

10. They benefit our mental health and well-being

The top ten worst things about parks:

1. They are not kept clean or safe

2. Park land is being lost to development

3. They do not receive enough money

4. There's too much litter

5. There's too much vandalism

6. There's too much crime and anti-social behaviour

7. They are not safe

8. There's too much dog mess and too many unrestrained dogs

9. Toilets and other facilities are in a poor state or non-existent

10. There's a lack of park keepers and wardens

Copies of the CABE Space Manifesto can be found in the publications section at www.cabespace.org.uk

More than 80 per cent of the manifesto signatories took part in the Manifesto survey

The government's Cleaner, Safer, Greener Communities aims to bring together programmes affecting public space across government and deliver noticeable improvement. Details on the programme can be found at www.cleanersafergreener.gov.uk

CABE champions the creation of great buildings and public spaces. It is a non-departmental public body set up by the government in 1999. Through public campaigns and support to professionals, CABE encourages the development of well-designed homes, streets, parks, offices, schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

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