The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has announced launched plans to help make the capital the world’s first National Park City and one of the greenest cities on earth.
As part of this ambition, the Mayor will use planning regulations to protect the Green Belt and incorporate into new developments more ‘green roofs’ (roofs covered with grass and plants which are excellent for soaking up rainwater), green walls (which can be added to the outside walls of buildings by busy polluted roads and are covered in plants to help boost air quality), ‘rain gardens’ (small green spaces which help prevent flooding), and habitats for wildlife.
He will also fund thousands more trees and improvements to community green spaces, and help London’s boroughs invest in the capital’s much-loved parks.
As a first step to making this happen, the Mayor has announced a new £9 million Greener City Fund for London to create and improve green spaces. Local groups can apply for the first £1m of grants to plant neighbourhood trees and maintain green community areas.
Khan said, “London is home to outstanding green spaces that I want to protect, invest in and improve as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.
“We can also increase the amount of greenery in the city by installing many more green roofs and making our streets greener. From our famous Royal Parks, to our much-loved community gardens and urban nature reserves like Woodberry Wetlands, this ‘green infrastructure’ is a vital asset that improves air quality, boosts quality of life, conserves wildlife and attracts thousands of visitors.”
As this is the first National Park City, the Mayor is working with partners across London, to set criteria for a National Park City, which will include:
Protecting and increasing the amount of green space in the capital;
Increasing access to green spaces for Londoners of all ages, particularly in areas where there is currently a deficiency;
Increasing the quality of green spaces, ensuring they are well maintained and create healthy habitats for wildlife;
Valuing London green spaces, accounting for the health, environmental, social and economic benefits it brings to London.
The Mayor’s strategy proposals are designed to help London towards this goal and the aim of launching London as a National Park City at an international Summit in Spring 2019. His proposals include:
Creating a ‘Challenge Map’ to highlight areas of London that should be priorities for green infrastructure investment as part of the Mayor’s target to make more than 50 per cent of London green by 2050;
Setting up a Green Spaces Commission to work with environmental experts to help boroughs attract investment, and transform and preserve their parks and green spaces;
Developing a new ‘Urban Greening Factor’ to ensure that green roofs, green walls – walls which are covered in plants and grass often by busy road sides and help lower pollution, trees and rain gardens are incorporated into new developments in London.
The Mayor will also use his planning powers to protect the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land.