The UK areas with the best and worst access to gardens and outdoor parks.
With summer well underway, children across the UK are keen to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Whether that's exploring public play areas, making the most of a climbing frame or trampoline in the garden, or a kick-about in the local park, there are plenty of ways kids can enjoy the benefits of being outdoors.
As well as being loads of fun, playing outdoors is key for a child's growth and development. Along with the physical benefits of being active, it can help them develop self-confidence and curiosity about the world around them and help them make new friends too.
But which areas have the biggest and best access to parks and gardens? We’ve delved into the data to find out, looking at the percentage of houses in each area with access to private gardens, the average amount of garden space of each household and the proportion of public parks in major cities across the UK.
The areas with the most access to gardens
Having a safe space to be active and play games is hugely important for children’s health and well-being, giving them time to burn off excess energy and have fun too.
When it comes to garden space, this local authority in the northeast takes the top spot. 96.5% of houses in South Tyneside have access to a private outdoor space.
Playing in the garden helps children to learn independently by encouraging them to be creative and curious about the world around them. Nobody knows this more than parents in Broadland, located in The Norfolk Broads as 95.8% of households have access to a private garden.
Playing outside helps boost children’s confidence and self-esteem as it’s much less restrictive than indoor play, meaning they can let off steam and be noisier outdoors. Up next is North East Lincolnshire. As the area is mostly rural there’s plenty of space for private gardens that children can play in, with 95.5% of households having access to one.
The areas with the least access to gardens
Having a garden means children can get plenty of vitamin D from the sunshine as they play which is crucial in helping them grow. However, Watford has the unfortunate title of the area with the least access to garden space, with only 77% of households having access to a private garden.
Playing in a garden isn’t just good for children’s physical health, it’s great for their mental health too, as spending time exercising outdoors is proven to lower stress and anxiety. However, children in London won’t get to feel the benefit as much as other kids around the country as only 78% of households have access to a private garden.
Outdoor play gives kids a place to switch off from everyday life, let their imaginations run wild and burn off extra energy. This improves their ability to concentrate, helping them do better at school. However, children in Dundee get less opportunity to do this, as only 79% of households have access to a private outdoor space for children to play.
The areas with the biggest gardens
Having a large garden means children have plenty of opportunities to run around, play and explore the world around them safely. And there might even be enough space for a trampoline!
Nobody is more aware of this than parents in Castle Point on the Essex coast. This area has the largest gardens averaging 1388.8 square metres.
Up next is Na h-Eileanan Siar in the Outer Hebrides with gardens averaging 1031.2 square metres. This comes as no surprise as the area has a very low population density, meaning there’s plenty of land for private gardens, and plenty of space to build your child a playhouse too!
Taking third place is another Scottish location, the Orkney Islands, with an average garden size of 899.4 square metres. Like the Outer Hebrides, these islands aren’t as built up as the more urban areas on the list, meaning more land is available as garden space for kids to enjoy swingsets and climbing frames, allowing their imaginations thrive.
The areas with the smallest gardens
Taking the unfortunate title of the area with the smallest average garden space is Portsmouth. The island city is one of the most densely populated locations in the country behind London, so it's no surprise it lacks garden space with an average of 117.9 square metres per household.
Playing with other kids outdoors gives children the perfect opportunity to develop their social skills, whether it's waiting for their turn on the swings or sharing their toys with others. However, children in Hull only have an average garden size of 140.7 square metres per household to play in.
Living space is at a premium in Liverpool and more than 15% of households in the area don’t have access to any private outdoor space, so it's unsurprising the city takes third place. The average Liverpudlian household only has access to 144.4 square metres of private land outdoors.
The cities with the most green spaces
Parks give kids the chance to exercise their imaginations and explore the outdoors safely and Plymouth on the south coast has plenty of opportunities to do so. The city takes the top spot when it comes to its proportion of parks, with 8 per 100,000 people.
Two cities share second place for their proportion of parks, with both Southampton and York having 7 parks per 100,000 people. This is thanks to their relatively low populations pushing the proportion of parks up.
Four cities share third place on our list - including two Scottish cities, with 5 parks per 100,000 people. Fife has the highest total number of parks with 20, although its high population pushes its proportion down and Aberdeen has the lowest total of the group, with 11.
The cities with the least green spaces
Salford, Luton, Swindon, Oldham, Wigan and Armagh all share the unfortunate title of the cities with the least public parks, with only 1 per 100,00 people. Half of these cities (Salford, Oldham and Wigan) are in Greater Manchester, which is bad news for kids who love playing outside in the region.
Outdoor play gives kids much-needed time to make new friends as they interact with others and develop their social skills too, by learning to take turns and share. A whopping 14 cities have only two public parks per 100,000 people for children to play in, with half in Yorkshire alone.
Playing in parks gives kids the opportunity to develop their independence by giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions. However, these opportunities are limited in 14 cities across the UK, as they only have 3 parks per 100,000 people.
The percentage of households with private outdoor space and the average area of outdoor space per household were taken from The ONS.
The number of parks per 100,000 people was calculated by dividing the total number of parks in each city according to Tripadvisor by the population, multiplied by 100,000.
Population figures were taken from the ONS.
Data was collected on 27/06/2023.