Urbanites need green space too
I’m an urban dweller and while there are many advantages – indeed joys – that come with that, the one thing that myself and my neighbours miss is that opportunity to immerse ourselves in nature.
When the weather is in the high twenties, the need for fresh air under a shady tree becomes a desperate one as most of us don’t even have a window box to call our own.
And we’re lucky where we live, because just across the street is Bixteth Park.
Park is really too grand a word for it.
In reality, it’s a modest patch of green with a few benches, shrubs and flowers, but the diminutive proportions do not diminish the importance of this space to my end of town.
It’s lovely. Really lovely.
At the moment, between 12 and 2, the grass is obscured by a carpet of office workers enjoying their lunch and basking in the golden glow of sunshine.
Those precious 45 minutes away from the office offers nourishment, enabling them to tackle whatever the afternoon throws at them.
Throughout the year, at either end off the day, the park becomes the meeting place for local residents and their dogs.
Friendships are forged, local information exchanged, and kind words offered to those going through a sticky patch in life. The same faces, human and canine, are seen over and again but new faces are immediately welcomed to join this special group.
Occasionally you’ll see young lovers, perhaps taking a stroll after their first date in one of the nearby bars, sharing their first kiss and holding hands, eager to make the most of their time together and reluctant to go to their separate ho
Sometimes a homeless person might bed down for the night, making the most of the relative peace and quiet that this little corner of the city offers up.
It’s all about the C word you see – remember that? Yeah, community.
For me the park has a particular importance.
I came to this city that I now call home when my life collapsed without warning.
Abruptly I was confronted with the end of a long relationship and I fled to Liverpool from deepest Wales to try and rebuild what was left of my life.
My old dog came with me, becoming a city slicker overnight, and without him and the necessity of taking him out for walks many times a day, I doubt I would have recovered as fast as I did.
In Bixteth Park I met people. Strangers became neighbours, and their dogs and mine life long pals, providing us humans with a reason to stop and chat, to laugh and to mull over what was happening in the news, in the area, in each other’s lives. It was therapy, free and completely harmless.
But guess what? Rumour has it that Liverpool City Council has decided that the land has a far more important purpose than that of a neighnourhood hub, than offering a little bit of the great outdoors to us council tax payers.
They want to sell the land to make way for yet more office blocks and yet more apartments, even though the city is awash with plenty of both, sitting empty.
What a regressive approach to the city, and to the local community.
Places like Abu Dhabi have acknowledged the importance of outdoor space to local residents.
In their town planning they incorporate parks, shady picnic sites and exercise facilities, such is their foresight. They actively encourage people to walk with their families, to exercise and build friendships.
They have invested in the infrastructure – of people.
Even with the challenging climate in that region, parks and public spaces are maintained because they understand the social value such places offer.
But not LCC. They seem to think that they know better.
The locals won’t allow the council and faceless developers to steal THEIR park without a fight. The space is too precious to them and once it’s gone, well, that’s it.
So, we’ll just have to hope that LCC realise what makes a truly great city before it’s too late.
Not acre upon acre of glass fronted blocks, fashionable bars for the high rollers, and row upon row of high street names flogging stuff that nobody actually needs.
Neighbourhood and community (there’s that C word again.) That’s what makes a great city.
That’s where the beating heart of a city can be heard. And what happens when the heart of anything siezes up? Exactly.
Take heed LCC, unless you just want to become another bland, British city, choked by concrete and glass developments, where nobody actually wants to live.