Bromley Unitary Development Plan

Proof of Philip Kolvin

Crystal Palace Park

Crystal Palace Campaign

Section 12

'I like to go to the park to read. I like to sit in the park and see what's going on without having to be part of it."

South London teenager


Public Attitudes to Open Space


All of the public survey work conducted over the last few years shows the great importance of urban open space to people in this country.


In 2003, Sport England, the Countryside Agency and English Heritage commissioned a survey as to the use of public parks in England. This showed that just under two thirds of adults in England (62%) had visited a public park during the previous 12 months. The most popular type of park visited was an urban park. People tended to use the park closest to where they lived, with walking the most common method of getting there. The percentage of people using parks correlated with a MORI survey sponsored by the Audit Commission in 1992, which had shown that 70% of the population had used a park within the last 12 months. It is not now known whether the cohort included children.


In 2001, DEFRA conducted a survey of public attitudes to quality of life and the environment. This showed that 29% of Londoners used their local green space once a week or more frequently.[88] It is not easy to compare this with other data which tends to deal with visitation to parks in general rather than particular parks. But the conclusion that nearly one in three Londoners visits their local green space at least weekly serves to underscore the value of green space to Londoners.


In addition to data regarding attitudes to the use of parks, it is instructive to consider attitudes to loss of open space. In 2003, MORI produced The Annual London Survey, Londoners' views of life in the Capital, produced for the Greater London Authority. This showed that 45% of Londoners believe loss of green space to be a problem, a figure 10% up on the year before.


Perhaps surprisingly, given the concerns often expressed as to the propensity of young people to become couch potatoes, research shows that they strongly desire to play outside. In More than Swings and Roundabouts, Planning for Outdoor Play[89], reference is made to over 100 local consultations of over 14,000 local children aged between 5 and 16. It reports: "The single strongest message from children and young people about their play and free time is that they want to spend more time outside." It also cites a survey in Northamptonshire, which found that nearly 75% of the 9-16 year olds questioned described themselves as outdoor people rather than indoor people, and more than 80% said they preferred being out and about to staying in. It seems clear that the guardians of the public realm have a duty to improve the amount and quality of active outdoor play provision for the youngsters in our community.

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[88] - Cited in Focus on London, (Office for National Statistics, 2003)
[89] - Children's Play Council, 2002

©Philip Kolvin