Organiser explains thinking behind London national park city proposal

Proposal holds 'momentary appeal' but lacks strategic political thinking, says Dr Sid Sullivan

Parks: inquiry now being sought
Parks: inquiry now being sought

The campaign to make London a national park city will require no new Government funding or legislation, organiser Daniel Raven-Ellison has said. Instead he dreams of an umbrella organisation such as Fairtrade that encourages individuals and groups to make changes in their own patch of the city "from the bottom up".

Those comments came in response to concerns raised by respected parks consultant Dr Sid Sullivan that the proposal is premature, lacking in detail and unfairly London-centric. Sullivan had told HW that while the proposal holds "momentary appeal" it lacks financial and strategic political thinking.

He is part of The Parks Alliance, which has asked the Government for an independent inquiry into the state of all UK parks. That inquiry should take priority and would allow for a more informed decision on a London national park, he added.

"In the context of the inquiry, a committee could look at London parks - that's a great idea. But to just go headlong into having a London national park is lazy thinking," said Sullivan, who stressed that he was speaking personally, not on behalf of The Parks Alliance.

Raven-Ellison responded by saying he "would agree if the proposal was to include any funding mechanism for parks - but it's not".

Instead a London national park would act as an umbrella organisation, promoting the capital's many green spaces and the groups caring for them as well as inspiring locals and visitors to get involved, whether in their own garden, street, allotment or local park.

It would require no funding from the Government nor would it give birth to a London-wide parks authority, he added. Rather, funding would come through sponsorship and be used for specific campaigns - such as promoting increased use of parks by children.

From The Parks Alliance's work to the mayor's "fantastic" work on the All London Green Grid, there is great policy work happening and it is very important that the campaign engages with those groups, said Raven-Ellison.

"The Greater London national park city proposal will not have 'the answer' to the parks crisis," he added. "It will propose a way to engage a wider range of people and space for learning, sharing and developing best practices - but across London's entire landscape. Creating a shared vision is a vital part of what we want to achieve."

Green paper - Consultation process closes

Consultation on a green paper that lays out a possible model for the Greater London national park city closed on 19 May. Plans are still short on detail but a full proposal is expected in July.

It will include rebranding London internationally as a green city, connecting children with nature, increasing green space from 47 to 51 per cent by 2051 and increasing visits to outer London by 10 per cent by 2025. A central London hub and visitor centre would promote learning and research while city rangers would promote the aims of the national park city.

The green paper stresses that the proposal would not, in its current form, require new legislation or planning controls.

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