Skip to content

The next London Mayor must act to save London’s green space

Alice Roberts
By Alice Roberts
9th November 2023

London’s parks and green spaces continue to come under threat.

In September 2023 we set out our Manifesto for the Mayoral Election 2024. Now, in a series of short reports, we focus on protecting London’s parks and green spaces, with more about what we want candidates to commit to – and why.

  1. The first in the series addresses the myth building on Green Belt can solve the housing crisis. Think building on Green Belt will solve London’s housing crisis? Think again…
  2. The second shows that the idea that parts of the Green Belt are ‘grey belt’ is false and shows why we need to build on the real grey belt. The real ‘grey belt’ – finding space to build in London and beyond
  3. The third addresses the ‘golf belt’ myth and shows how London’s remaining playing fields are being bought by developers and taken out of use, in search of profit Protecting space for sports

We want to hear candidates say:

  • “I will protect London’s Green Belt, strictly apply ‘brownfield first’ policy, be clear that building on Green Belt will not solve London’s housing crisis, and instead support housing policies which have a realistic chance of helping the millions of Londoners now facing devastating costs just to put a roof over their head.”
  • “The idea that parts of the Green Belt are ‘grey belt’ is a myth. The real grey belt is within London where land-hungry car parks and road layouts take up huge amounts of space. These are real opportunities. I will ensure these are targeted for new housing and commercial development and promote a similar approach in commuter towns outside London.”
  • “I will not drive speculative purchases of playing fields and golf courses by implying that some bits of protected land are ‘worthless’. I will not buy into the ‘golf belt’ narrative which promotes the false choice: golf or houses.”

What can you do?

Whatever the reason a site is coming under threat, the solution invariably lies in communities being engaged with a site, ensuring it is well used and valued and campaigning to save it when possible threats emerge. This story tends to play out continually over time: many of the parks we have today only exist as a result of historic, hard-fought campaigns.

One thing is clear: communities will always need to be vigilant. We recognise this and so support the London Friends of Green Spaces Network, the movement to create and grow park friends groups, who are able to champion their local park, ensure it is a well-used and loved local asset, and if necessary spring into action if a threat arises. There are currently around 700 friends groups in London but, with more than 4,000 green spaces, many more are needed.

  • Ask candidates to support the pledges set out above
  • Identify neglected green sites in your area, tell us about them and perhaps set up a local group to create a new or better local park or green space there. There is lots of advice available from Parks Community or get in touch with us
  • Join your local park friends group – you can find their details at GoParksLondon.

CPRE London’s commitment to London’s parks and green spaces
✓ We support local groups, helping them save vital parks; and supporting them to create new parks from neglected and derelict green spaces.
✓ We identify the reasons spaces are coming under threat and work to tackle the causes.
✓ We champion parks, green spaces, Metropolitan Open Land and Green Belt, showing why they are so important.
✓ We publicise threats and advocate for political commitment, new policies and legislation to tackle them.