Is Leighton Buzzard's Parson’s Close Recreation Ground the UK's Best Park 2019?

Parson's Close Recreation Ground
Parson's Close Recreation Ground

Parson’s Close Recreation Ground in the heart of Leighton Buzzard is seeking support as the UK’s Best Park in a nationwide competition organised by green space charity, Fields in Trust.

The Fields in Trust UK’s Best Park, 2019 is now open for a public vote to select the nation’s favourite local park. A total of 364 public nominations for parks and green spaces across the UK have been made – and 37 of these are in the East of England region - each one a much-loved part of its local community.

Now it is time to choose the winners via an online public vote at until noon on Monday, August 19.

The anonymous nominator of Parson’s Close Recreation Ground said: “In the heart of Leighton Buzzard is a simply fantastic public open space, with a splash play and beach in the summer, skateboard park for older kids, swings, slides, zip line for all. Bandstand with regular Sunday concerts in the summer. Toilet facilities in the park."

Voting opened to coincide with “Have a Field Day” earlier this month, the annual celebration of parks and green spaces. Over 250 community-led events saw thousands of people across the UK coming together for picnics with their friends and neighbours, to celebrate their parks and green spaces and join a movement of fellow park users who want to champion their green spaces for the health and wellbeing benefits they deliver and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

Fields in Trust is a UK-wide charity that legally protects parks and green spaces in perpetuity. The UK’s Best Park Award recognises the role that parks play in our communities, supporting mental and physical health and bringing people together.

The charity is concerned that many parks and green spaces are under threat and are at risk of being lost to development or a cycle of decline and disappearance. Last month Fields in Trust published research which revealed that over 2.5 million people across Great Britain live more than ten-minutes’ walk from a park or green space and the East of England region has more than 314,000 people whose nearest green space is more than 10-minutes-walk from home.

With public sector cuts leading to pressure on parks and green spaces, they say there is the risk that a lack of legal protection could lead to more being sold off or developed.

Fields in Trust Chief Executive Helen Griffiths said: “Our parks and green spaces are a vital part of UK community infrastructure. We know that they provide benefits to the physical health, mental wellbeing and community connections for people that use them, so we are delighted to see a record number of nominations for the UK’s Best Park award and it is encouraging to see so many people organising picnics with neighbours to celebrate how much they love their local park.

"Fields in Trust is committed to protecting these valuable and much-loved parks and green spaces for future generations to enjoy.”

Nominations for UK’s Best Park 2019 include small community gardens and large nature reserves, sports fields and playgrounds; each green space valued by its community and nominated by the regular park users who love to walk, run, cycle, relax, picnic and play with their children in the UK’s parks. At the conclusion of voting the park with the most votes in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be shortlisted with the UK’s Best Park 2019 announced in mid-September.