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Have you ever thought about your local park?

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Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by Ivan on Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:54 pm

Those of us who live in towns and cities – the vast majority - take public parks for granted, but it was only during the growing urbanisation of the Victorian era (circa 1840-60) that they were established to enable people no longer living on the edge of the countryside to have open areas of green land where they could walk.

An urban historian at the University of Leicester, Dr Katy Layton-Jones, has been championing the cause of public parks since her undergraduate days. Through her research she hopes to keep alive an awareness of their importance to the public and to help protect them as places not just of recreation, but also of importance to the folk memories of communities.

Dr Layton-Jones has said: “In spite of their name and the fierce interest they evoke among local pressure groups when threatened, the provision of public parks is not a statutory obligation, and memories that enrich a community can all too easily be lost.” A primary source for her research has been the parks themselves, which reveal their history. For example, in the Second World War, their iron railings were removed and many parks were turned over to allotments to help the war effort.

The design of English parks quickly spread far beyond these shores. Central Park in New York, which opened in 1857, owes its design to English parks, in particular those created by Joseph Paxton, whose parks included the Crystal Palace.

Nor has the history of public parks proved to be dull – or even uniformly respectable. Throughout the 19th century parks, as now, were scenes of sex and vandalism. Leicester’s Clarendon Park was one of many to offer young people in domestic service their only opportunity for illicit liaisons after dark, well away from the disapproving eyes of their employers. Other things have not changed. In Victorian times the proximity of an attractive park would have a major effect on the housing market.

http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2011/october/park-research-breaks-new-ground

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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by tlttf on Sat Nov 26, 2011 9:05 am

The point being?

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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by Ivan on Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:20 pm

The point being?
We take a lot of things for granted. At this point in time nearly every town in the UK has a park, but they haven’t always been there.

It’s thought the world’s first public park was Alameda de Hércules in Seville, which was created in 1574. One of the UK's oldest public parks is Derby Arboretum, which was donated by the textile manufacturer, Joseph Strutt. Derby was growing fast in the 1830s, and Strutt wanted to provide an open space for the community. The earliest purpose-built public park, although financed privately, was Princes Park in the Liverpool suburb of Toxteth, opened in 1843.

The Victorians invented and shaped the concept of public parks and in turn influenced the creation of parks in North America and Europe. The promoters and champions of the first public parks saw them as a means to boost the local economy and civic pride by making towns and cities attractive places to work and live. It was also recognised that having a well maintained park in an area can push up property prices. These parks were conceived as special places to provide clean fresh air to those who were living in increasingly built-up environments, and where all sections of society could enter free of charge and mix freely to relax, unwind and to exercise.

In the last thirty years or so, many parks have been neglected and suffered a loss of their original features, such as bandstands, fountains and boating lakes. They increasingly became eyesores as problems such as maintenance and funding led to a gradual decline. Throughout this period many historic parks became endangered as they were perceived as being old-fashioned and not relevant to today’s society. As a result, they became targets for redevelopment and unsympathetic re-design. Fortunately, the Heritage Lottery Fund has helped many local authorities restore their historic parks.

Although many parks are protected by law, as Dr Layton-Jones has said “the provision of public parks is not a statutory obligation”. In the 1980s, Thatcher floated the idea of charging for admission to public parks but probably found that the concept wasn’t feasible as most parks have so many points of entry. Now, when councils are strapped for cash and there aren’t so many school playing fields left to sell off to developers, who can say that it won’t be public parks next? That’s the point.




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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by Katy Layton-Jones on Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:57 am

Currently, your local authority has the right to close every park in your local area. They are under no obligation to provide a single park and that goes for playgrounds and sports fields too. As pressure is placed on local authorities to raise capital, they are being encouraged to sell off assets. The only parks that might enjoy some protection are those deemed to be of 'historical significance' but this doesn't give much comfort to those who are using parks today and not in 1870!
For those who argue that the risk of public outcry is enough to protect parks, take a look at what is happening in Brent with local library closures. 20 years ago, the notion of closing such a significant local educational resource would have been unimaginable. By the time people recognize that their park is under threat, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The loss of public green space to private owners is already happening and was underway even under New Labour. Take a look at Stanley Park and the new Liverpool Football Club Stadium project in Liverpool:
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/tm_headline=new-anfield--the-first-picture&method=full&objectid=18741200&siteid=50061-name_page.html
Remeber, once it's gone, we'll never get it back again...
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:56 am

The lesson is well-recorded in the number and area of former Allotments that have been sold-off for development.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by moonbeam on Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:48 am

Most of the public parks in my urban area are playgrounds for children, though a few do have outdoor amphitheaters. Some also have small lakes or ponds, where you might be able to rent a little paddle boat and go out on the water.

I have taken my son to a playground after school the last couple of days since it's been about 57 F. You have to take advantage of winter weather this nice, even though it was windy both times.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by Ivan on Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:45 pm

I'm posting this on behalf of Dr Katy Layton-Jones and would ask members to complete the short but interesting survey concerning their local park. Thanks.

Dear friends and colleagues,

As part of our on-going research project with English Heritage, we are hosting a brief online survey for park users in England. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to complete and the findings will help to shape future research priorities for parks and urban green spaces. I would be very grateful if you would complete the survey yourself and, if possible, publicise the survey via Twitter, Facebook and any other route you can think of.


https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SSGKK6S

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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by astra on Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:17 pm

The Council here spent "loadsamunny" modernising the children's play areas in our local park - new see-saws rubber matting on the floor. seats for the adults to sit on, and a fence around the area so that balls from adjacent pitches were not going to knock yer Starbucks outaa yer hand!

All closed now! Not been elf an safety assessed! closed 2 years an' goin' rusty! Sad Sad
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:23 pm

Even local councils can have a sense of humour. Our village green has a corner set aside for a children's playground, and this is completely surrounded by iron railings (to exclude dogs). Fixed to the gate is a notice proclaiming "SOUNDPROOF FENCE".
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by Ivan on Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:10 am

More public spaces privatised as Hyde Park to charge for sport too
 
by Sunny Hundal
 
"Thinking about going to Hyde Park for a kickabout this summer? You may have to cough-up up to £30 an hour just to play football. In yet another example of public spaces being privatised, Royal Parks have handed over control of Hyde Park’s old football pitches to a private company.

Furthermore, Royal Parks admitted that there was no public consultation on the decision. Regular users of the pitches say they weren’t even informed of the changes until very recently.

Royal Parks say the decision to charge was made due to a funding shortfall arising from  government budget cuts. What happened to the Olympics legacy?"
 
 
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/07/18/more-public-spaces-privatised-as-hyde-park-to-charge-for-sport-too/
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:01 am

Why are we not surprised? Thatcher established the principle that profit-generating activity belongs firmly in the Private sector, and governments should let them alone to get on with it.

There is perhaps a wry smile to be found in the reference to Royal Parks. Public spaces like Richmond, Hyde, Green and St. James' plus of course Epping Forest, The New Forest etcetera are only "ours" because long-dead monarchs grabbed chunks of the landscape for their Hunting activities.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by starlight07 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:13 pm

I have always loved a park with a swing in.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by vappuk on Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:51 pm

Superb park in Congleton, never closed and always used responsibly.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by boatlady on Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:15 pm

Is that how it looks this week?Really stunning wild flower meadow.
Thanks for the picture
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

Post by vappuk on Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:51 pm

It looks similar even now (photo was taken about a month ago), just more 'mature'.
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Re: Have you ever thought about your local park?

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