Speaker: Ian Mell (University of Manchester)

Who has the right to use our green spaces? Are they public assets? Who should pay for parks? These questions have permeated the thinking, funding and management of parks and green spaces historically and in contemporary practice. Following ten years of austerity government in the UK (2010 onwards), the funding of parks has reached a nadir, with many commentators wondering whether they can be saved from dereliction or sale. However, there is a corresponding groundswell of evidence drawn from within local government, communities and the environment sector that parks, green space and water bodies should be considered critical to societal wellbeing. By reflecting on how we arrived at this position in which we are considering whether the funding of parks is economically or societally appropriate, we can examine why so little value is placed on public green spaces within government, how this differs from local community options, and what pathways can identified to manage parks in perpetuity. The talk will focus on the approaches being taken across local government, the environment and third sectors to address funding cuts, promote environmental education and call for legislation protecting parks. It will conclude with a call to arms asking whether there is a crisis of conscience within society regarding parks and how we address this.    

Dr Ian Mell is Senior Lecturer in Environmental & Landscape Planning at the University of Manchester. He is a leading expert in Green Infrastructure Planning, Policy and Practice with over fifteen years of research practice experience in local government, academia and research. His work examines how we plan, fund and perceive landscapes, utilising real-world experience from the UK, EU, North America and South and East Asia to better understand the value of Green Infrastructure to society. Ian’s work has been funded by the EU, Valuing Nature Programme and Landscape Research Group. He recently he led aspects of Defra/Natural National England’s Green Infrastructure Standards work. He is the author of Global Green Infrastructure (2016, Routledge), Green Belts: Past, Present, Future (with John Sturzaker 2017, Routledge), and the Concise Guide to Green Infrastructure Planning (Lund Humphries, 2019). 

IHR Seminar SeriesHistory of Gardens and Landscapes