The Landscape Guide

Public Park

The term 'public park' dates from the early nineteenth century (see note on city park) and is associated with the public health movement. It was believed (wrongly as it turned out) that infectious diseases (eg cholera) could be prevented by giving towns more fresh air.

The mistake about public health has had a bad effect on the planning and design of public parks. Providers have always felt the need for rules and regulations. These are necessary for public health but in public parks their use should be restricted public safety and the protection of property.

Park managers also have a regrettable tendency to think of the park as theirs and of decisions about how money should be allocated as being for them to decide.

If the park is really public then members of the public should have a real say in decision-making. Mere 'consultation' is not enough! It results in loveless and unloved municipal parks. London now takes the lead in this type of public park, as it once did in public parks for public health.