Six hours' sunlight for parks, playgrounds and wildlife

0 have signed. Let’s get to 10,000!


We ask Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Boroughs of London to change planning policy to commit to giving London’s parks, playgrounds and green spaces for wildlife six hours of sunlight on 21st March of each year.

We are a coalition of groups who care about green space in the city: The Garden Museum, London Skyline Campaign, SAVE Britain's Heritage, Stop the Blocks, the London Gardens Trust, Lambeth Village, London Wildlife Trust and the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens Association.

Current planning policy for London requires just TWO hours of direct sunlight on a park, playground or wildlife area on the two annual equinoxes of 21st March and 21st September. This means that your local park could be cast into shadow for 22 hours a day [2]. And in mid-winter, when the sun is even lower, your park or playground can be in permanent shadow – and still meet current guidelines.

The guidelines were drawn up to apply to all spaces between buildings, from car parks to shopping arcades. We believe that green spaces are different.

This two-hour rule is incorporated into the current draft of the supplementary planning guidance (SPG) Good Quality Homes For All Londoners, which will set out where and how new housing should be built in London. The SPG is integral to the Mayor of London's new London Plan, which is due to replace the current plan this year. We must act before this happens.

Our eyes were opened to this at the Garden Museum when we joined with the community group Lambeth Village to oppose the construction of a 'grotesque' cluster of high-rise towers of luxury flats at 8 Albert Embankment [3]. We discovered that Old Paradise Gardens (pictured), a park for our neighbours in social housing, could be cast into darkness for up to 22 hours a day.

We are asking everyone who cares about sunlight in green public spaces to join our plea for change.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

o  Health: Sunlight is vital for physical and mental health. Sunny and attractive parks make people want to spend time outdoors, encouraging a healthy lifestyle in an era where parks have become more important than ever.

o  Children's development: Children need places to play in the fresh air that are warm, dry and safe, especially those who live in city housing blocks and don't have access to gardens of their own. [4]

o  Horticulture: plants need in warmth and sunlight to grow, and winter sunshine is particularly important for germinating seeds and bulbs. Community and growing and gardening projects, which are so important for community spirit, become hard to run in spaces where plants are difficult to grow and planting options are limited. [5]

WHAT WE'RE ASKING FOR

Our health can no longer be a casualty of the property gold-rush.

We propose a new minimum recommendation that public outdoor amenity areas including parks and playgrounds should get SIX HOURS' SUNLIGHT on 21st March. Please sign and share to save our sunlight.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] This comes from the BRE's "Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A Guide to Good Practice" (2011).

[2]  In fact, these guidelines are to be interpreted flexibly, and standards are lower in 'opportunity areas'. Opportunity areas are those earmarked for intensive development in the coming years, such as Battersea and Nine Elms. Supplementary Planning Guidance to the London Plan (2016), 1.3.45

[3] Private Eye 1541, 19 February-4 March 2021 describes the proposed towers by developer u+I in partnership with the London Fire Brigade as ‘grotesque’. The application was called in by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, after a community petition reached over 5,000 signatures

[4] Warmth and light are important for controlling slime and moss (see BRE's 2011 guide, 3.3.1), which can make playgrounds slippery and unsanitary

[5] We discovered that the rare and beautiful plants in our Sackler Garden at the Museum, designed by Dan Pearson and delighting 75,000 people each year, have no protection