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1/3 of UK city residents will soon leave for more green space

More than half of those living in urban areas said they intended to move in search of green space at some point in their future. 

high-angle photography of trees

Access to fresher air, access to nature, and space were all cited as key drivers. Many also said this would take them closer to friends and family. 

The results of polling by Landsec also reveal that city residents believe protecting nature and biodiversity should be the second-biggest priority for developers. Good transport links were considered to be more important. In total, 55% of respondents said they would leave the city in the future, and one-third within the decade. 

1,200 people from across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff were included in the survey. 53% said they now expected more to be done on issues such as air quality, affordable housing, and green space, and many reported this view increasing as a result of the pandemic. Overall, 94% said they now placed some importance on access to nature, and around four-in-ten believe nature, trees and green space should be the most significant consideration for construction projects. 84% had the view that their city needed to improve efforts preparing for climate change, and around 9/10 recognised how important this is for the future of their area. 

‘Nature is not a luxury but a necessity for equitable, resilient and thriving cities. It plays a vital role in keeping our cities habitable, from the food that we eat, to the air that we breathe, and can be one of the best lines of defence against climate change,’ said Jennie ColVille, Head of Sustainability at Landsec. ‘The quality and amount of nature in urban places has been neglected in recent years because of population growth, industrialisation and the development needed to meet modern society’s needs.

‘To build the cities we need for the future, we must change our approach to urbanisation in a way that enables people and nature to co-exist, while creating jobs and fuelling economic growth,’ the continued. ‘If cities don’t embrace this change, they risk losing out on valuable talent, growth, and vitality, while remaining vulnerable to the intensifying impacts of climate change. Through our nature strategy, we’re taking a holistic approach to the way we design, develop, and manage our places to find the right solutions, ones that benefit the environment and communities, and reflect the full value of nature.’

Last month, biodiversity net gain regulations came into effect, meaning new housing and other developments must now prove a positive impact on nature and habitats, with improvements equal to an additional 10% of what was at the site. Landsec is among a number of companies going further still, and has committed to an additional 10% of biodiversity net gain for locations with existing greening, and 2 biodiversity points per hectare for those without. 

More on biodiversity and urban greening:

Biodiversity Net Gain is now active policy, here are its limitations

Green futures: a masterclass in inclusive, sustainable community placemaking

Anxiety and mood linked to bird diversity

Image: Robert Bye

 

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