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Natural not cultivated: a new vision for Kingston’s green spaces

Almost 400 residents had their say on how they would like to see the borough’s open spaces managed in the future with overwhelming support for wildlife friendly adjustments.

Kingston Council is responsible for over 500 hectares of public open space, including 43 parks, 22 allotments and 30 playgrounds across the borough.

Last year, residents were invited to share their views on how these areas should be looked after and what features and facilities the council should focus its resources on in the coming years.

Between August and December 2019 almost 400 local people gave their feedback through face-to-face conversations and via the council’s Let’s Talk engagement portal.

Residents were generally satisfied with the current maintenance of green spaces, yet showed a strong preference for them to be managed to encourage wildlife. There is wide support for the scaling back of grass cutting along with more rewilding, tree planting and meadows in parks, to help boost biodiversity. 

Litter clearing, public toilets and sports facilities were also important factors to local residents.

Councillor Hilary Gander, Kingston Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainable Transport said:

“Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their views on our much-loved green spaces. Residents have made it clear to us that they have a new vision for our open spaces and that is natural over cultivated!”

“Your feedback will now help us to focus our resources on what matters the most to local people. Wherever possible, we will look to further prioritise tasks that support nature conservation and biodiversity, and allocate less time to grass cutting and general garden maintenance.”

“Our goal is clear - a cleaner, greener Kingston for people to live, work and visit alongside thriving wildlife populations. We will continue to work closely with residents and our community groups to achieve this, building on the different approaches we have been trialling over the past couple of years, including introducing relaxed mowing regimes in parks, planting biobeds to increase urban pollinators, supporting the establishment of new community orchards and piloting traditional grassland grazing.”

The full findings from the consultation will be fed into the recommissioning process of the grounds maintenance and arboricultural maintenance contracts in 2021.

Feedback will also help shape the council’s refreshed Green Spaces Strategy and new Biodiversity Action Plan launching next year.The council is also engaging with housing tenants and leaseholders to gather their views on green spaces on their estates. All feedback will be fed into the above strategies and help determine how these spaces are looked after in the coming years.

View the full report by visiting kingstonletstalk.co.uk/GreenSpaces.

Published: 17th November 2020