1. Environmental
May 14, 2020

In the UK, Londoners are by far the least likely to have gardens

By Jonn Elledge

The Office for National Statistics has released some fascinating data showing the percentage of households in every district in Britain who have access to a private outdoor space. (An earlier version of this piece said gardens, but it’s possible these figures include balconies and so forth too.)

My colleague Michael has already written up the headline findings, noting that ethnic minorities and manual workers were less likely to have private outdoor space than the rest of the population. He also noted that Londoners were the most likely to be living without private outdoor space: 21% of households in the capital don’t have gardens, compared to between 7% and 13% elsewhere in the other nations and regions of the UK.  

But this, if anything, understates quite what an outlier the capital is. In the median local authority, 90.4% of households have gardens: in half the councils in Great Britain, more households have access to gardens; in half of them, fewer do. Literally every London borough has more homes without gardens than that. (The closest to the average is Havering, where 89.7% of households have gardens.) 

The nine councils in which fewest households have gardens are all in London. In five London boroughs – Tower Hamlets, Camden, Westminster, Southwark, Hackney and Islington – that number is under 70%. In the City of London it’s just 7%, though given that this is the City of London we’re talking about it’s almost surprising it’s that high. (Honestly, where are all the houses with gardens hiding in Europe’s biggest financial district?)

The New Statesman’s head of data David Ottwell has turned the data into this map:

That white space in and around central London might offer some insight into why, despite lockdown, the capital’s parks have remained quite so crowded recently: 44% of Londoners live within five minutes of a park,

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Two other interesting things I’ve spotted this morning. Firstly, London’s first major new cycle path is open – it’s not, as TfL suggested last week, along Euston Road, but along Park Lane. (The latter has fewer junctions, and so may have been less of a technical challenge to construct.) Here are some pictures, courtesy of the capital’s walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman:



Secondly, some cheery traffic stats. Not a single person has been fatally struck by a car in New York City for a record 58 days. In London, meanwhile, there has not been a single such incident in the whole of May. Every cloud, eh?

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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