Convenient and speedy access to open space and “green infrastructure” — whether a park, gardens, a heath or fields — is of inestimable value to our physical and mental health. And for those who live in cities surrounded by harsh urbanisation, a home that’s convenient for green space carries a price premium, too.
Research by Natural England reveals that 24 per cent of people living close to green space are more likely to be physically active, and residents are prepared to pay 19 per cent more for the privilege.
Another recent study in high-density Holland found that people living within a three-kilometre radius of green space coped better with stress.
London is one of the greenest cities in the world. As well as eight Royal Parks covering 5,500 acres, there are commons, municipal parks and community spaces providing a little piece of countryside in the heart of the city.
Boris’s great outdoors
Mayor Boris Johnson’s “Great Outdoors” initiative aims to improve public spaces. To date, there are 86 finished projects and 10,000 trees have been planted — Burgess Park, which straddles Peckham and Camberwell, is an impressive example — while the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Forgotten Spaces competition focuses on the imaginative re-use of neglected plots.
Affordable housing providers and town planners are seeking to ensure that renters and people lower down the property ladder are not excluded from or priced out of green zones. The Olympic Park, designed from the outset for a time beyond the Games, shows how affordable homes can be integrated with splendid community facilities and a green environment.
More than 2,800 mixed-tenure homes are becoming available in the coming months at East Village, where athletes lived during London 2012. To register, visit eastvillagelondon.co.uk.
East Village alone has 10 hectares of new parks and open space, while alongside it is the newly created Queen Elizabeth Park, with 285 hectares of parkland and waterways plus jogging, cycling and nature trails. This, in turn, is connected to the green swathe of the Lee Valley — in effect a massive country park.
“We believe it’s essential to keep providing shared-ownership properties in London’s greenest locations, and, where possible, to enhance or create green space at new developments,” says Lauren Nicholson, of Family Mosaic housing association.
She cites Harper Square, in Southwark, which is a modern take on the traditional garden square, with homes set around a communal landscaped area. Two-bedroom apartments cost from £137,375 for a 35 per cent share (full price £392,500). Call 020 7089 1315.
Green house effect
The Meadows, Mitcham, is in Merton, one of London’s greenest boroughs, and these homes are set around a landscaped square in a conservation area bordering 182-hectare Mitcham Common. One-bedroom apartments from £153,000 (full price). Call Notting Hill housing group on 020 8357 4444.
Finsbury Park is one of the cheaper well-connected north London locations. Its refurbished Victorian park is bigger than St James’s Park and Green Park combined. Most flats are conversions in period properties but new-build apartments are sprouting up for singles and couples who want to live in a place where they can feel the beat of the city.
Greenest is finest
Finsbury Park Place is an eco-friendly scheme - one of the greenest in London - of 42 flats on Queen’s Drive, which runs into the 115-acre park. Designed by PCKO Architects, this mixed-tenure development has been chosen to be part of the New London Architecture's (NLA) Housing London Exhibition (from October 31 until December 21 at the Building Centre in Store Street, WC1). “In terms of price, quality and location, it doesn’t get much better value than this,” says Tracey Maile, of developer Lovell. Prices from £263,000. Call 020 8800 8143.
Nearby Woodberry Park overlooks 50 acres of tranquil open water. This is a redevelopment of a former Hackney council estate (one of the UK’s largest) that will eventually have 4,600 new homes, a mix of open-market and affordable properties. Shared-ownership homes are available through Genesis housing association. Prices from £57,500 for a 25 per cent share (full price £230,000). Call 0845 600 4663.
Family houses and flats at The Green in west London are handy for Hounslow Heath (from which Heathrow gets its name), a wild and rugged swathe of countryside designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Bedfont Lakes and the National Trust’s Osterley Park are also close by. Prices from £180,000. Call United House on 020 8577 8492.
Listed Myatt’s Fields Park, Stockwell, is already a “Green Flag” winner. The park and surrounding land are being upgraded and more than 800 new homes, allotments and a community centre are being built by developer Regenta and Lambeth council. The first homes are due next year. Visit prparchitects.co.uk