The lockdown effect: two thirds of us want better green spaces where we live

Research shows that 71% of adults in England think their local green space, or nearby countryside, could be enhanced

misty garden with hedges and topiary
(Image credit: Rockfield Park)

We don't know about you, but we've relied on green space more than ever during lockdown. Not only have parks and outdoor spaces provided a welcome break from the confines of our homes – particularly for those living in flats without garden access – but the calming effects of nature and being outdoors has also been remarkably soothing during what, for many, has been a particularly stressful time.

So, we weren't surprised to learn that 71% of adults in England think their local green space, or nearby countryside, could be enhanced, with a further 52% specifying that they'd like to see more wildlife  and plant life within their local green space. 

In direct response to this research, CPRE, the countryside charity and the HomeOwners Alliance are calling for the government to go further to protect and enhance local green spaces so that everyone has easy access from their doorsteps.

  • Find information on enhancing your garden – the closest  green space to your home

CPRE, the countryside charity and the HomeOwners Alliance believe that everyone should have easy access to quality green spaces from their doorsteps and the government should go further to protect and enhance these spaces. Today’s results show that the public agree, and those who were in favour of enhancements would like to see:

  • More wildlife including birds, butterflies and bees (52%)
  • More and a greater variety of trees, shrubs, hedgerows, plants and flowers (52%)
  • More wilding and less manicured green spaces, allowing nature to take its course (30%)
  • More signposted walks (36%)
  • Better maintenance of paths and tending of trees and lawn (34%)

Unprompted, respondents added that reducing litter and litter collection are also key issues affecting our countryside and green spaces.  

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:

‘Access to quality local green spaces has hurtled up the agenda as a political issue and for good reason. As lockdown eases, many people are turning to their local patch of green as a place to meet family and friends, subject of course to social distancing, as well as their daily dose of exercise and nature. We’ve been championing local countryside and green spaces for nearly a century, believing they are vital for our health and wellbeing – a natural health service as they’re now being called.

‘But not everyone has access to green spaces and too many have been lost as the countryside next door to our largest towns and cities faces mounting pressure for development. If the government is serious about learning the lessons of the pandemic, it must use upcoming planning reforms to protect these precious spaces and recognise their value as a natural health service, as we do. But we can’t stop there - by properly investing in our green spaces we can make these spaces easily accessible to more people and invite wildlife like birds, butterflies and bees back.’

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of Homeowners Alliance, said:

‘Now that people are allowed to move, new build homes and those with nearby green space are becoming more popular. There is a real opportunity for developers and government to create quality green spaces; and this is much more than a patch of lawn. Planning reform should ensure that green spaces are not considered to be an afterthought or a nice extra given the positive role they can play in people’s lives.’

Easy ways to enhance your garden

Emily Shaw

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.