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As green areas become more popular, they should also become more accessible

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people felt an increased necessity to be in contact with nature, which indicated  that access to green spaces was not only providing physical, but  mental wellbeing benefits also. This in turn highlighted the importance of making our green spaces more accessible to all, allowing the benefits of these areas to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Urban green spaces can provide health and economic benefits, improve safety and provide disaster resilience. It’s estimated that the NHS in the UK saves at least £100 million a year in GP visits and prescriptions due to the presence of these green areas.  In addition green spaces can also provide areas for leisure and community life, creating safer, more liveable streets and reducing building energy costs associated with cooling. These benefits and savings could be even further reaching if everyone could have unimpeded  access to these “natural health service” benefits.
Part of the population still face many challenges in gaining access to these areas, while poorer communities statistically share less space and have less access to public parks. 
Besides the distance and how these urban green spaces can be accessed / are allocated around the city, these areas can create barriers for people  when they are not designed  with consideration for Universal Design and access for all. 
If green public areas are to be made accessible to everyone, they need to be planned and designed to consider all the types of abilities and individual requirements from the beginning of a project. It is essential that local and national authorities encourage and create more accessible green spaces ensuring  convenient access to such  spaces from residential areas. 
One benefit from the pandemic  has been the alteration to people’s attitudes and the value they place on their time spent outside,  in contact with nature and the world around them. After lockdown, people are more aware of the open spaces and natural amenities around them, making it the perfect time for local authorities, with the help of planners and other stakeholders, to develop more green spaces in cities and enhancing the accessibility of existing facilities. This is the ideal time to rethink how we plan our access to nature and implement  change.
For the link to the full articles, follow the links below:
Not All Green Space is Created Equal – or Equally Accessible to All | TheCityFix
Life after lockdown: how to make green space accessible to all | Friends of the Earth
Urban Parks Can Increase Social Equity | TheCityFix
Alternatively, if you need further information on how to make facilities or services more accessible and inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail