“You can walk across it on the grass” screamed the 1966 Time magazine cover that coined the term “Swinging London”. It is somewhat reassuring that almost half a century later, London is still famed for this: 47% of London is green space, making it one of the greenest cities in the world, explaining why, this week, there are calls to make Greater London into an urban national park. National parks themselves have a fascinating history, coming into creation in a post-war Britain that faced the rise of the car, the holiday and a nostalgic longing for the remnants of the “green and pleasant land” (no humming along, please). The aims and purposes of national parks have changed very little, but, as the campaigners acknowledge, an urban national park would have to be a legally distinct designation. However, they claim it may help reduce obesity, which is a more pressing issue following the news that the economic crisis has intensified the British obesity epidemic. Where do you stand, Geographers, Historians and Politics students?
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