The number of people who live in urban areas in the UK is expected to increase over the next decade, while the total provision of greenspaces is expected to decline substantially, as infrastructure increases to meet the needs of a growing population. 

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s (EFRA) Urban Green Spaces inquiry focuses on the ecological, environmental and human benefits of green space and the most effective solutions to making cities greener and nature rich. It explores how green spaces in built-up areas can help meet the environmental and associated health challenges of urban living.

The main inquiry page is here (opens in new page) and has links to lots of useful written and oral evidence.

MPs probe what environmental and wider challenges urban areas are facing and consider how Government and Local Authorities address, protect and increase green spaces.

Evidence on challenges such as urban heat islands; flooding; air and noise pollution; biodiversity and ecosystems; equality of access and health implications was submitted in late October.

The transcript of the Urban Spaces oral evidence from specialist witnesses on 5 Dec (World Soil Day) can be found here and the video recording here

This initial EFRA committee hearing included witnesses from a range of backgrounds covering the themes above:

  • Professor Prashant Kumar, Global Centre for Clean Air Research and the Institute for Sustainability, University of Surrey and RECLAIM Network Plus
  • Mathew Frith, Director of Policy and Research, London Wildlife Trust
  • Dr Mark Gush, Head of Environmental Horticulture at RHS Wisley
  • Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh
  • Graham Duxbury, Chief Executive, Groundwork
  • Dr Elaine Mulcahy, Director, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change 

Other themes were highlighted such as land ownership; diverse stakeholder interests (including commercial use of public greenspace); green social prescribing; skill shortages for managing urban greenspaces and food growing.

The EFRA inquiry oral evidence session on 30 Jan heard from a range of organisations directly caring for or supporting urban greenspace.

These included Midlands Park Forum, Plymouth Council, the Association for Public Service Excellence, Natural England and the National Trust  (England Wales and Northern Ireland).

Find material from that evidence session here (opens in new window)

[This news story was edited on 9 February 2023 to keep it up to date].