Urban Parks

An urban park is a large public garden in a town or city. To be sustainable, a city needs green open spaces.

Why were urban parks created? 

The country houses owned by the aristocracy and landed gentry were surrounded by large parks. In these landscaped areas, family and friends of the owner could enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, riding and fishing.  When people moved into towns and cities many lived in homes without gardens. They needed access to open spaces where they could relax and play. As a result, urban planners included recreation grounds, parks and gardens within their designs.

How were urban parks created?

Town Councils set aside land for leisure and recreation as their towns grew. Sometimes a large house and its surrounding park were bought for public use. This happened in the London Borough of Ealing when the Land Board acquired Pitzhanger Manor and its 30 acre park in 1900 for £40,000. The renamed Walpole Park opened in 1901 and is still used daily by hundreds of people.


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 

The bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London included the pledge to build a new urban park as part of its legacy.  Today the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London is a major new park in London.  To create the Olympic site industry and homes were relocated, land decontaminated, waterways dredged and tonnes of waste removed.  After the Olympics the development of the site continued. Today the park is home to several world class sporting venues, art installations and gardens. The former Olympic Stadium has been remodelled and is now occupied by West Ham United football club. It can also host a variety of different events including pop concerts.



Who can enjoy urban parks?

Anyone can visit an urban park. Entry is usually free. Children have access to playgrounds with swings and roundabouts. Often there are tennis courts, football pitches and outdoor gyms for the use of all ages.  Park runs have become popular in recent years. These free community events encourage fitness and friendship.


What are the benefits of urban parks? 

Nature benefits enormously from the oasis of greenery in the middle of even our largest towns and cities. Birds, insects and mammals all live in urban parks. Ponds attract fish, waterfowl and amphibians. When parks are joined together they can form a wildlife corridor, further increasing nature recovery.

There are many studies that show the physical and mental benefits of having access to green open spaces particularly if one lives in a built-up area.

What is your favourite urban park? Email me at liz@lizpaice.com.