“The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee report on public parks warns that parks are at a tipping point and face a period of decline with potentially severe consequences unless their vital contribution to areas such as public health, community integration and climate change mitigation is recognised.
Councils should publish strategic plans
The Public parks report highlights considerable challenges for the sector including reduced council spending, with parks management budgets cut by up to 97 per cent, the need for parks to compete with other services for funding, and planning policy not giving them enough weight, particularly as a result of pressures to increase housing supply.
The Committee call on councils to publish strategic plans, which recognise the value of parks beyond leisure and recreation and set out how they will be managed to maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles, tackling social exclusion and managing flood risk. It is hoped these plans will open up parks to support and funding beyond their usual budgets and service areas.
The Government should issue guidance to councils to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and other relevant bodies to publish these joint plans and consider making producing such a strategy a legal requirement if the guidance proves ineffective, the report adds.
Parks make vital contributions to physical and mental health
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, said: