I have some very good news for you. London is on course to be declared the world’s first National Park City in 2019.
This amazing achievement is down to the grassroots support and activity to get official backing for the idea from over 1,000 local and regional politicians, including on the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. 346 of 654 ward teams from across all of London’s boroughs have declared their support so far. We hope they all will.
Such ground level support sums up the ethos of the National Park City idea – locally-driven and owned with official buy-in.
We’re in a new phase moving from making the case for London to be a National Park City to making this a reality and showing what it means in practice, working with the Mayor of London, local communities and borough councils, and the growing range of businesses, professionals and agencies that want to play their part.
We still need more people to know about the London National Park City so that they can contribute to making it a success.
What can you do now?
The simplest thing is to let others know that London is set be declared the world’s first National Park City. Telling people is bound to raise queries and you can make use of the Q&A on our revamped website. (Do let us know of any questions that aren’t covered which we can help address.)
Of course, being a National Park City will not see London turn into or compete with the Peak District, New Forest, South Downs or other National Parks. It draws on the principles of National Parks but in a city setting, and allows everyone to explore how to improve life across London with more people doing the kind of things that make life especially worthwhile – more time spent in nature outdoors, for instance, a greater sense of place and knowing how we can all make London resilient.
You can also help shape the coming year as we build to the declaration of London National Park City in the first half of 2019. There’s no need to wait for the declaration to be active. Getting planting and outdoors more, letting us know if your event could be badged as part of London National Park City, writing for our website and advising on how to bring London National Park City alive in other ways all count - let us know what you want to do.
This is because to make the London National Park City a success - and make our the city greener, healthier, wilder and more enjoyable - there needs to be good leadership at all levels, from balconies and streets to gardens and schools.
As chair of the trustees of the National Park City Foundation – the body overseeing the idea of National Park Cities in London and beyond – we are working with London National Park City founder, Daniel Raven-Ellison, and many other super volunteers on the behind-the-scenes things which are needed to ensure that the London National Park City is a success.
In May we will confirm precisely when London will become a National Park City and we’ll work out a timetable for its launch. There will be a new website and we’ll announce more of our plans and share more ways for you and everyone else to be involved as an individual, group or organisation.
Thank you so much for all you have done so far - it’s no mean feat. Along with my colleagues I will post more updates. Meanwhile, do let us know how we can help you to make London even better as the world’s first National Park City.
Paul de Zylva
Chair of Trustees
National Park City Foundation (NPCF)