Under lockdown – highlighted importance of green spaces

The current coronavirus crisis has highlighted the crucial role of green spaces play in our daily lives – whether for exercise, meeting people, relaxation or wellbeing. In recent weeks, some parks have closed, police have dispersed crowds and some remain open but have been deserted. Nottingham Post published photographs of deserted parks (see https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/gallery/pictures-deserted-parks-playgrounds-notts-3983030). Yet, in mid-April 2020, the Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced that although social distancing had to be observed, “people need parks” referring to their role in the “health of the nation”.

The links between green open spaces and health was brought to the fore during the nineteenth century, when urbanisation and industrialisation affected the “health” of towns and parks became the renowned “lungs of the city”. Government led reports and investigations recommended local and national action to ensure adequate provision of open spaces, and in 1840, the committee on the health of towns, noted that future enclosure acts should preserve open spaces for public walks as they were “essential to the health and comfort” of the labouring population. As early as the 1830s, newspaper reports highlighted concerns about Enclosure and the importance of open spaces (Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties, 16 September 1836, p. 2), and in March 1845, similar concerns were raised at meetings held to discuss the proposed Enclosure Bill (Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties, 7 March 1845, p. 2).

The Nottingham Enclosure Act of 1845, that enabled the growth of the town into the surrounding fields, preserved 130 acres as public walks and open spaces.

These green open spaces are as important today as ever, and the history that shaped them can help us appreciate the ways in which they are an integral part of our lives and our communities. If you want to know more about Nottingham’s Green Spaces, you can explore the project website (and, a series of new fact files about key green spaces in Nottingham – full of fascinating information – will be launched soon as well).

Online survey

As part of the Green Spaces Project, we would like to find out how people use Nottingham’s historic green spaces: please click here for our short online survey.

 
 

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