Introduction

The benefits of appropriately designed green spaces for health are well documented and widely recognised through international research. It is confirmed by the WHO, International, National and Local Government, and by a wide range of Charities and Organisations.

The scientific evidence demonstrates the benefit of using well designed urban parks and spaces to prevent and alleviate a range of conditions:

    • Physical Health: Conditions and co-morbidities related to Obesity, CHD, Type 2 Diabetes, Strokes, some Cancers,
    • Mental Well-being: Stress, Anxiety and Depression,
    • Social Capital and cohesion; building social networks, and personal relationships to alleviate depression and anxiety
    • Environmental Risk Factors: Conditions related to Noise, Pollution and those related to Climate Change

As long ago as 2009 The Mayor of London’s Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives task force recommended the development of a standard “to measure and capture the health benefits of parks, to compliment the Green Flag Scheme”. The Parks for Health Assessment and the Design for Health Assessment models offers unique opportunities to identify and celebrate Health Parks and Spaces, and to deliver health promoting Parks and New Developments.

The use of Parks and Open Spaces as Health Assets for the prevention of ill health, and as a context for Health Promotion will do much to reduce personal suffering, strengthen communities and reduce the costs of primary health care.

Health is common to us all. The use of Parks and Urban Spaces for health provides the context for holistic, sustainable, cross cutting interventions, engaging Councils, Landowners, Public Health, Primary Care professionals and General Practitioners, and local communities to better use existing resources for the health and well-being, and to develop health promoting new settlements and communities.