In 2016, we undertook a public survey exploring people’s use of Leeds parks and their experiences of them. Over 6,400 people across the city responded to our online and postal survey, conducted in partnership with Leeds Parks & Countryside Service. The findings show that parks in Leeds are widely used and enjoyed by diverse social groups.
The Leeds Parks Survey – Full Report, published today, shows that some 91 per cent of the city’s population made at least one trip to a park and over half of those who visited did so at least once a week. In total, we estimate that there were approximately 45 million adult visits to Leeds parks at the time of our survey.
Leeds, like many councils, has had to find funding for its parks out of a heavily-squeezed budget. Our survey indicates that those public parks which meet quality standards are linked with enriched visitor experiences: people are more satisfied, feel safer and are more likely to say that spending time in parks is very important to their quality of life than people who usually visit a park that that was below the standard.
The city’s seven major parks such as Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam already hold Green Flag status. But only 42 of the 63 smaller community parks reach an equivalent Leeds Quality Parks standard.
We make 16 recommendations for developing parks policy and practice in Leeds and similar cities in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11.7 which requires that all nation states will ‘by 2030 provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities’.
Notably, we recommend that priority is given to raising the standard of parks across the city to ensure access to good quality green space for all residents and visitors, playing due regard to the specific needs of particular groups of people that enable them to enjoy the full benefits that derive from well-managed parks.
In this regard, we recommend a need to better understand the personal and social barriers, experienced by older people and disabled people, to the full enjoyment and use of parks and for the need to make improvements in this regard.
The full report includes a foreword by Cllr Lucinda Yeadon, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment and Sustainability.