The world’s first national park city

Last month, I found out about the Greater London National Park campaign, and I have to say I got surprised!

I had never thought such an initiative could be possible!

Basically, the idea is to make London the world’s first national park city – ‘national park cities’ do not exist yet, and they believe that it is such an opportunity that should be taken. They say:

London is an incredibly diverse place. 8.3 million humans speaking 300 languages share the city with 13,000 wild species as well as lots of cats and dogs. (…) 60% of London is open land and 47% of Greater London is green. As well as the 3,000 parks, 142 local nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest, 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 2 National Nature Reserves within the city’s limits, there are 3.8 million private gardens. For its size, London is one of the very greenest cities in the world – something to celebrate.”

Map of the Greater London National Park, as published on the campaign website

Map of the Greater London National Park, as published on the campaign website

What would change?

Daniel Raven-Ellison, a Guerrilla Geographer and campaigner, wrote an article on the Guardian, explaining:

The statutory purpose of national park status is to ‘conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area’ and ‘promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public.’ What if we took these ideas and applied them to London? I think this would radically change how we see, think about, design, manage and experience the city.”

Supporters of the campaign, as published on its website

Supporters of the campaign, as published on its website

He defendes that by being active outdoors in green space would improve collective health. Also, costs with air quality, climate change and flooding could be mitigated by a strong greening strategy that boosts natural habitats.

Arnos Park, London Borough of Enfield, N11. Photo: Ewan Munro - https://www.flickr.com/photos/55935853@N00/

Arnos Park, London Borough of Enfield, N11. Photo: Ewan Munro – https://www.flickr.com/photos/55935853@N00/

For the ones asking why should Londoners allow another layer of governance or saying it looks like a new bit of paper for status, they answer:

This is not a proposal to change planning policy in the capital. The Greater London National Park would not have the planning powers that so many residents in current National Parks dislike. Nor would it replace the thousands of organisations who are already doing incredible work across the capital. (…) The Park’s leadership role would be to inform and inspire best practice, help better to co-ordinate and promote London’s biodiversity and recreational opportunities.”

What are your thoughts? They’ve got a very complete website, with loads of information, and a petition to be signed.

They also support the Garden Bridge, which we have already spoken about.

Advertisements

The Garden Bridge

Official poster invites Londoners to have a say on the project / Photo: tfl.gov.uk

Local government is calling Londoners to give their opinion about a bold project: they want to make a(nother) bridge over the Thames, or rather, a footbridge in the middle of a garden.

The project is called “Garden Bridge” and is headed by The Garden Bridge Trust, a charity created just to promote it and raise funds for its building.

The source of the money was the first questioning of the population. It is hard to invest in something extra when there are problems in health and education, among others. However, the government ensures that the £ 60 million required will come from private investors – or there will be no Garden Bridge.

Bridge Perspective / Photo: http://www.heatherwick.com

Undoubtedly, it is a structure to make the scenery even more beautiful, a new landmark of the city sought and packed with tourists. Project drawings leave no doubt.

But necessity indeed may not exist.The very well known Tower Bridge was built in the late nineteenth century because poor London Bridge could not stand the traffic of carriages and people in the central region anymore. Traffic jams were constant. Queen Victoria opened a contest to choose the best design and in eight years it was done.

Today, it is possible to cross the Thames in Greater London in 34 bridges. Londoners have until December 20 to give their views on the implementation of this one, which would be the 35th, built between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges.

The project was developed by agencies Heatherwick Studio, Dan Pearson Studio and Arup, which won a contest taken by Transport for London (TfL) in June. Heatherwick was also the winner of a competition to choose a new design for the buses in 2010. “Boris buses” can now be used in four routes since replacement is gradual.

The latest bridge opened in London was the Millennium Bridge in 2000, also for pedestrians. It was then closed for security reasons and reopened in 2002.

View at dusk / Photo: http://www.heatherwick.com

Access to the bridge from Arundel Street / Photo: http://www.heatherwick.com