Greater London National Park – Innovation at the edge

Over the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the concept of “Design Legacy” and will over the coming months expand on this. However, it is worth while occasionally reflecting on emerging innovations in the urban park sector. Meet Daniel Raven-Ellison – Daniel is a Londoner, guerrilla geographer, alternative adventurer and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He is the driving force behind this new concept. I was luck to catch him at the recent World Parks Congress. The Concept: A Greater London National Park The city covers more than 1,500 square kilometres, an area about the size of Surrey or South Yorkshire. More than 13,000 species, including humans, inhabit 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, three million gardens and two National Nature Reserves. Overall, 47 per cent of London is green space, and 60 per cent is classified as open space. As Daniel outlines: “We have eight million trees in London; the world’s largest urban forest,” As the Daniel makes his case for the world’s first urban national park, at a city scale. Yes there are national parks that form parts of great cities and the Finnish have furthered this concept of National Urban Parks. But no where in the world has anyone reimagined the whole landscape on such a scale to achieve (from the Greater London National Park website):

  • Children – Growing up in a National Park City would have a profound influence on our children. It would open up new opportunities for young people to be healthy, spend quality time with family, improve their outdoor education and grow up as creative citizens.
  • Health – Actively enjoying quality green space improves our mental health, physical health and well-being. It not only saves money on the health services, but can also improve productivity in the workplace.
  • Wealth – The Greater London National Park will put London on the map as the birthplace of a new National Park City movement. It will not only inspire new kinds of business in the capital, but actively work to promote opportunities for recreation and tourism in London’s outer boroughs.
  • Recreation – London is an incredible, inspirational and accessible landscape to explore. The Greater London National Park would promote the city’s long distance footpaths, 50 canoe clubs and numerous other often forgotten opportunities to enjoy open-air
  • Environment – The National Park will create a common vision for the city that all Londoners will understand. Activities will lead to better management of the capital’s green and blue infrastructure and as a result, increased resilience against pollution, flooding, climate change and other risks.
  • Nature – Londoners share a long history appreciating and protecting wildlife. The Park would both celebrate our achievements in conserving green space and inspire a generation to think creatively about our future relationship with nature.

Explore the concept:

The concept is not only designed to engage communities and society with their environment and reimagine a liveable city but also to test the boundaries of the “National Park” concept. It is timely that we re-examine what is possible and what can be. This maybe the “Design Legacy” of the next century.

Follow Daniel and the journey:


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