Everyone knows that fresh air is good for you, and escaping to wide open green spaces or the coast has health benefits. A recent study by the Institute of Health Equality highlights the growing evidence that green spaces benefit our health and wellbeing.
The study was funded by Natural England to investigate where there is a link between open spaces and our health. The report shows that children who live close to green spaces have higher levels of physical activity and are less likely to be overweight, and older people tend to live longer when they live closer to green spaces. In addition, the most deprived areas are ten times less likely to have, or be near, to large green spaces.
The report details access to green spaces per county, to assess whether there are any inequalities in terms of the distribution and access to green space. Bath and North East Somerset has above average access to green spaces. However, the study shows several counties with below average and deprived access to green spaces.
The report concludes that there is a link between biodiversity, green spaces and human wellbeing. There have also been several reports in 2014 that indicate that access to green spaces is also good for mental health.
It is therefore important that any new developments incorporate high quality green space within their scheme. In addition, existing greenspace should be enhanced to maximise the benefits to local communities, including to access and improvements to biodiversity. It is important to ensure a variety of open spaces, from parks and recreational areas to natural woodland, grassland and meadows.