London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new £9 million fund to create and improve green spaces and encourage more tree planting in London. The Mayor wants to make London the first National Park City with a target of making 50 per cent of the city green by 2050. To do this, his ambition is to plant more trees, restore our rivers, create natural play-spaces for children and green routes to encourage walking and cycling. The first commitment towards this is the Greener City Fund, a grant programme to support boroughs, local communities and environmental organisations to plant more trees and improve our green spaces.
Previous assessments of London’s green spaces have indicated that about 47 per cent of London is green space. This includes: parks and amenity space; the countryside and farmland in London’s green belt; nature reserves; and private gardens. About 20 per cent of London is covered by trees, mostly as integral parts of the city’s green spaces. It also includes trees in streets and other urban parts of the city.
Khan asserts that well-designed green spaces should be multifunctional and offer a range of benefits that support the needs of a growing population. Yet there are many parts of London, especially in densely populated or deprived areas, where Londoners lack green space or have little tree cover. Greening these areas can provide many benefits, including: improving health and wellbeing; providing space for recreation and cultural activities; adapting to climate change; and creating habitat for wildlife.
A City for All Londoners sets out the Mayor’s plans to improve London. The policy document states that London ‘must develop to accommodate more people, jobs and activity. It must also adapt to the increasing threats from climate change. As such, it is vital both for the health and wellbeing of our citizens and for London’s economy to protect and enhance the environment.’
Making London a National Park City
The Mayor also wants to make London the first National Park City. This will be a way to promote his policies, proposals and projects on green infrastructure and give them a common identity. It is how he will engage Londoners and raise awareness about natural environment issues. The aim is to help Londoners make more use of London’s outdoors. It will also encourage them to help green London, whether by gardening for wildlife, volunteering to plant trees, or installing green roofs.
The Mayor’s National Park City programme will include:
- updating London Plan policies to protect green space and encourage greening of the urban environment, for example through green roofs
- support for boroughs and other land managers to help identify and promote the full economic value of London’s green infrastructure, to help build the case for essential investment and maintenance funding
- feeding into initiatives such as the Healthy Streets Approach, to ensure that the full potential of greening to enhance street space is realised
- a package of funding and advice – the Greener City Fund – to help boroughs, local communities, and environmental organisations run projects that plant more trees and improve London’s green spaces.
Greener City Fund
The Mayor has committed £9m to create and improve green spaces and encourage tree planting and management in London.
The Greener City Fund will include three specific elements:
- Strategic green infrastructure projects: the Mayor’s £3m of funding will support strategic green space improvements that will bring multiple environmental benefits. For example, river restoration in parks, which could provide flood water storage, new habitats for wildlife and improved space for play.
- London’s urban forest: City Hall will work with partner organisations, boroughs, Londoners and businesses on a range of projects to help plant and look after trees in London. The Mayor’s £3m of funding will help: create new woodlands; pilot new approaches to supporting tree planting in public space; improve data about London’s trees; and support London-wide projects.
- Community Tree Planting and Green Space Grants: over the next three years, the Mayor has committed £3m to help Londoners plant trees and make our city greener. These community grants will be offered in several rounds. They will involve community groups, charities, schools, boroughs and businesses in planting trees, and improving and increasing green space across London.