London's gardens are being lost at a rate of two and a half Hyde Parks a year, a pioneering study published today has revealed.
The report, London: Garden City?, found that the amount of hard surfacing - including decking and paving - increased by 25 per cent in the 100-month study period.
The study was based on aerial photographs, researched by Chloe Smith in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London and the Greater London Authority.
It highlights the importance of addressing the impacts of garden design and management on the environmental role of gardens.
The report shows that on average, 500 gardens or parts of gardens were lost to development per annum in London.
Mayor Boris Johnson has proposed to strengthen the capital's spatial development plan, the London Plan, to make it harder for developers to encroach on gardens.
Smith said: 'This is the first research of its kind for London. The study not only details the amounts of each kind of ground cover in the capital's gardens - which has never previously been documented - but also the gains and losses within a decade. This is important to test well-known anecdotal evidence and other localised research.
"We can empirically demonstrate the importance of London's gardens," added Smith.
"In particular, we document the area of London's gardens that is primarily vegetation - 57 per cent of the 37,900ha of gardens is estimated to be vegetated, that's 14 per cent of London."
LONDON'S GARDENS LAND USE STATISTICS
- 37,900 ha, or 24 pr cent, or 3.8m plots in London is private garden land.
- Hard surfacing in London's gardens increased from 9,900ha in 1998-99 to 13,000ha in 2006-08, a 26 per cent increase of some 2,600 ha. Garden buildings increased in cover by 55 per cent, or 1,000 ha.
- 57 per cent (22,000 ha) of London's garden land is vegetated (measured in 2006-08). But this area has fallen 12 per cent from 25,000ha in 1998-99, or 3,000 ha.