Two new woodlands will be created in London’s Green Belt, the majority of which is not public open space despite making up 22 per cent of the capital’s land area.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to create more green space in London and has confirmed his plans to create two new woodlands as part of his work to protect and improve the Green Belt.
In a separate announcement, Khan has also launched an online cycling course to give people more confidence to start cycling. It supports the Streetspace for London programme which is rapidly rolling out more space for people to walk and cycle.
Two new woodlands spanning over 84 hectares will be created in Havering and Enfield with close to 140,000 trees planted in the newly acquired areas, which were previously inaccessible to the public.
The woodlands will be located in London’s Green Belt, the majority of which is not public open space despite making up 22 per cent of the capital’s land area.
London became the world’s first National Park City a year ago but despite an extensive network of parks and open spaces, some communities don’t have access to a garden or a public green space close to their home.
Black and minority ethnic Londoners, for example, are four times less likely to have access to an outdoor space in general. To address some of these inequalities, the mayor has funded 270 community green space projects, planting more than 280,000 trees in the capital.
Enfield Council will receive a grant of £748,000 to restore the formerly wooded Enfield Chase area to create 60 hectares of new publicly accessible woodland. The project will also fund improvements to 3km of walking and cycling routes to improve access for local communities through the newly created woodland.
“More than ever, London’s green spaces are not only vital to people’s mental and physical well-being, but also to reducing inequality across the city”
The Woodland Trust has also been awarded £493,082 to secure land and extend Hainault Forest in Havering with new tree planting, which will create a new wildlife corridor between the forest and Hainault Country Park. The project will enable year-round public access to a previously private area of green space in an area currently lacking public open space.
Tree-planting will start in November 2020 and will play a vital role in enhancing London’s green belt. New woodland will help address the climate and ecological emergencies through storing carbon, reducing flood risk and enhancing biodiversity.
More than 600 local volunteers are expected to plant trees at the sites on special community planting days, encouraging a connection and sense of ownership from the beginning. The projects will also create new jobs and opportunities in woodland management.
“More than ever, London’s green spaces are not only vital to people’s mental and physical wellbeing, but also to reducing inequality across the city,” said Khan.
“The Government this week announced concerning changes to the planning system, showing little regard for the environment. I want today’s announcements to show how we can lead the way kickstarting a green recovery in London, continuing to prioritise the new green spaces that will help deliver huge social and environmental benefits that Londoners deserve.”
The mayor and Transport for London (TfL) are committed to a green, sustainable recovery from coronavirus, and putting in place measures that will reduce the risk of a damaging car-based recovery.
The Cycle Skills course, which is available on the TfL website, covers everything from getting bikes set up for a first ride to tips for cycling safety with children in one place,and is tailored to cycling in London.
Everyone who completes the four training modules will be sent a free Santander Cycles 24-hour access code, enabling them to start putting the skills they’ve learnt into practice.
TfL has also secured £2m from the Department for Transport for cycle training in London, which will be delivered via the London boroughs. Each borough will be allocated £60,000 to deliver socially distanced Bikeability and Cycle Skills training from August onwards.
The mayor announced the City Hall investment during a visit to Pimlico to try out the upgraded newly segregated cycle route between Chelsea Bridge and Lambeth Bridge. Streetspace funding has enabled pole cones to be added along the 2.4km route to protect people cycling from other traffic.
“Walking and cycling will be absolutely central to London’s recovery from coronavirus and our Streetspace programme is making sure everybody who wants to cycle can do so easily and safely”
This upgraded route will play a vital role in allowing thousands more journeys to be made by bike. It is a key corridor for people cycling into central London and TfL modelling shows it has one of the highest potential demand for cycling of any road in the capital. During lockdown, a section of it was the third most popular UK route logged on Strava, with almost 50,000 journeys logged along Milbank Embankment.
In addition, 17km of new cycle lanes have been created through the Streetspace for London programme so far, with a further 20km under construction. Segregated cycle lanes trebled in the first four years of Sadiq’s mayoralty from 53km to 162km. More than 15,000m2 of extra pavement space has been delivered through the Streetspace programme so far to enable social distancing and encourage people to make journeys on foot.
“Walking and cycling will be absolutely central to London’s recovery from coronavirus and our Streetspace programme is making sure everybody who wants to cycle can do so easily and safely,” said Sophie Edmondson, principal sponsor for cycling at TfL.
She continued: “Our newly upgraded cycle route between Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge will make thousands of journeys to and from central London safer and our new online Cycle Skills course will help people to cycle with confidence. We’ll continue to work closely with London’s boroughs to ensure everybody can benefit from extra space and improved infrastructure.”
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