The London Borough of Islington is one of the most densely populated urban areas of the UK, with amongst the lowest green space provision per 1,000 population. The roughly 200,000 residents of the inner-London borough share just 67.78 hectares of green space between them, equating to just 3.29 square metres of provision per person - less than a tenth of the national average of 35.22 square metres per person.
Whilst Islington falls well below the national standard in terms of provision of green space, they understand the importance of protecting what they have got to ensure their residents can continue to enjoy the benefits of these green hearts and lungs of the community in perpetuity. Compared to a national average of just 6% of publicly accessible local park and green space provision protected with Fields in Trust, in Islington they have protected over 15% of their provision with us, covering 19 spaces across the borough.
Of these, a dozen are adventure playground spaces, which were protected in 2012 as part of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge. For the children and young people of Islington their adventure playgrounds give them opportunities to explore, play, develop and connect with other children. These are vital resources in such a densely populated area. Christine Lehmann, Commissioning and Quality Manager - Play and Youth at Islington Borough Council, picks up the story:
"Our adventure playgrounds are places where children and young people can really indulge their imaginations. They can play freely, make new friends, express themselves creatively, explore and have fun. And they can do this safely and securely – because they're staffed by playworkers, so children feel more able to test themselves physically."
"...being close to estates where people don't tend to have their own green space, they provide invaluable access to nature. I can't emphasise enough how incredible it is that these spaces have been protected."
Christine Lehmann, Commissioning and Quality Manager - Play and Youth, Islington Borough Council
Acknowledging the role of these adventure playgrounds in the local communities, Christine goes onto say:
"They're well used, particularly after school and during the school holidays, and being close to estates where people don't tend to have their own green space, they provide invaluable access to nature. I can't emphasise enough how incredible it is that these spaces have been protected. Play is such a vital part of childhood, and we're so proud and delighted that our adventure playgrounds are protected with Fields in Trust so that children can continue to have access to play spaces."
Alongside their twelve adventure playgrounds, Islington Borough Council also protected four further spaces as Queen Elizabeth II Fields - Culpeper Community Garden, Foxham Gardens, Gillespie Park Nature Reserve and Tufnell Park Playing Fields. These were in addition to two spaces which were protected as part of the King George V Fields Foundation in 1938 and 1957 and have since been added to with Islington Memorial Green protected as part of the Centenary Fields programme in 2015.
Like many communities across the country, and especially so in London, Islington will see further pressures placed on their provision of parks and green spaces due to the effects of population change over the coming years. Projections show the borough is set to experience a 37% rise in its population by 2041 which will further cut the level of provision from 3.29 square metres per person to just 2.39 square metres. By protecting 19 spaces with Fields in Trust, however, Islington Borough Council have ensured that these vital parks and green spaces will always be there as places of play as well as sport, relaxation and enjoyment for everyone in their communities.
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