Milton Keynes is in the running for Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood 2019, as the Ramblers reveals their final shortlist of the ten most walkable urban areas across England, Scotland and Wales.
At a time when more than a third of people are still not meeting recommended activity levels1 and concerns about air pollution levels hit the headlines on a weekly basis, the Ramblers is calling on local authorities to help tackle these problems by creating towns and cities designed for walking.
Their annual award celebrates areas where positive steps have been taken to create green, welcoming and walkable neighbourhoods that put people – rather than cars – at their heart, leading to increased activity, and the health, social and economic benefits this brings to individuals and communities, while also combatting poor air quality.
The ‘new town’ of Milton Keynes, designed and developed in the 1960s, owes its place on the shortlist to its well-connected walking network that allows residents to travel between local housing, services and shops on foot. The central shopping area can be reached along the Grand Union Canal, which weaves its way from the top to the bottom of the town, and through Campbell Park, one of Europe’s finest contemporary parks. A fantastic variety of green spaces, green infrastructure and commitment to connecting housing with local amenities add to the attraction for pedestrians and it’s possible to walk from one side of the town to the other without crossing a road. The local authority has invested in safety for pedestrians, street trees, and LED lighting.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the benefits of walking and being outdoors every day, wherever they live and work. Our finalists this year are fantastic examples of how communities and local authorities can work together to create neighbourhoods that are designed around people, making them enjoyable and safe to walk around. We want councils and developers across the country to follow their example and help us create a country that is truly designed for walking.”
Ian Dunford, Chair of the Milton Keynes Ramblers was one of the people who nominated the town for the award. He said: “Milton Keynes is a great walking neighbourhood. It has a fantastic network of paths and green routes that enable you to get across the town in a safe, traffic free environment. It’s easy to get around and enjoy the town without taking a car. It really is a great place to relax and take a walk.”
Rob Riekie, Landscape and Operations Director for the Parks Trust in Milton Keynes, said: “Within Milton Keynes there are several hundreds of miles of footpaths that offer people so many opportunities to explore over 3,000 hectares of public open space that include river valleys, canal walks, ancient woodlands, parkland and numerous lakes. The network of footpaths travel from people’s front doors into the city’s vast amount of green space and then beyond into the wider countryside and surrounding counties. The large choice and amount of connectivity this network of footpaths offers people is truly astounding and must be experienced to be believed!”
Other pedestrian-friendly features and initiatives that made Milton Keynes stand out among the nominations include:
– An extensive network of parks means everyone who lives in Milton Keynes is within walking distance of a green space
– Milton Keynes council recently pledged to ‘spruce up’ the 22 million trees that sit in its parks and on its streets and to plant new trees in newly developed communities
– Redway Routes (2m wide clear, red tarmac surfaces) enable wheelchair users and push chairs to enjoy the town’s path network.
The Ramblers is also asking councillors to sign up to their Charter for Walkable Neighbourhoods, which sets out five things that councils can do to make neighbourhoods better for walking. One of the top priorities is to make neighbourhoods greener, with the ambition that everyone should have a quality park or green space within five minutes’ walk of their doorstep.
The ten areas in the running for Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood are:
– Chorlton and Whalley Range, Greater Manchester
– Bow and Three Mills, London
– Greater Brockley, London
– The Deepings, Lincolnshire
– Cambridge city centre
– Milton Keynes
– Brighton City Centre
To find out more about the ten shortlisted areas and to vote for your favourite before the closing date of 30 June, visit: www.ramblers.org.uk/vote.