Springwatch host Kate Humble and athlete Roger Black were in Charlton Park this morning launching a scheme to protect Britain’s open spaces from development.
Save A Space For Me – part of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge – aims to permanently protect 2,012 open spaces, including footpaths, paths and playing fields, from development. The idea is to create a legacy from next year’s Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.
Visitors can nominate their local open spaces, and volunteer to help look after them too.
Humble and Black were joined by children from Charlton Manor primary school, Greenwich mayor Jim Gillman, Olympics cabinet member John Fahy and Eltham MP Clive Efford.
Humble said: “Research shows time outdoors is good for us, both physically, and mentally – but we don’t need research to prove it, as we all know a couple of hours outside in the fresh air makes us feel a whole lot better than sitting in front of a computer, or lying on the sofa eating crisps.
“Sadly, many of our parks and open spaces are under threat, and there is increasing pressure on local authorities to sell off green spaces. They’re valuable economically, but that’s very short-termist. We’ve got to think long term.”
Before challenging the Charlton Manor pupils to a race across the park, Roger Black hailed a “great” project, adding: “There was one word which kept coming up when we were bidding for the Olympics – legacy. That’s been a real challenge for people – for some it’s the buildings, for others it’s about the medals, but for me it’s always been about these guys here.
“It’s been about every child in this country knowing what the Olympics stands for, enjoying sport and getting engaged in sport, and that can’t happen if we don’t have spaces like this across the country.”
One local open space which has been under threat has been Hervey Road playing field in Kidbrooke, just half a mile from Charlton Park, and until recently was the planned site for a new special school to replace one in Plumstead.
“The council is going to be reaching a decision shortly on the development of Willow Dene school on its original site,” John Fahy said. “This will give us an opportunity to look at the future of Hervey Road, which in the long term I believe will be sustainable.”
To “save a space”, visit www.qe2fields.com.