Olympic style scrutiny needed

Mark Camley's appointment to the London Legacy Development Corporation to see through the delivery of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, reminds us how close we are to the creation of one of the largest new green spaces in Europe for generations.

Putting aside worries over the sporting legacy of the games and their scope for regeneration, there is little doubt that the opening of the park will be momentous for those living in east London and beyond.

But as Liz Gifford, new chair of Milton Keynes Parks Trust, reminds us this week, while even a new city can be built in a relatively short time, a mature, well-structured landscape takes much longer - and needs the closest management. At Milton Keynes it was always understood, she notes, that "rigorous management" would be needed to create a healthy and sustainable environment. Likewise, while delivering the park may be the first task facing Camley, ensuring that the decision-makers understand, as those in Milton Keynes did, the need for ongoing "rigorous management" supported by the proper levels of funding, will be his biggest challenge of all.

The tragedy is that just at the point where, for once, national politicians' attention will be keenly focused on the quality of 200ha of green space, so many local politicians up and down the UK are taking disastrous budget-driven decisions which could damage our green infrastructure for decades.

The difference is that unlike the Olympic Park, urban green space as a whole has been denied national scrutiny, ministerial responsibility, and a central point of engagement with politicians at national level. Until this is resolved, the future outside the Olympic Park will remain of great concern.

Kate Lowe, Editor - kate.lowe@haymarket.com

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