One in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, according to our analysis of Ordnance Survey (OS) map data.
This rises to more than one in five households in London (21%), easily the highest percentage of any region or country of Great Britain. The next highest is Scotland, at 13%.
In England, Black people are nearly four times as likely as White people to have no access to outdoor space at home, whether it be a private or shared garden, a patio or a balcony (37% compared with 10%). This is according to survey data from Natural England.
We have published further analysis of disparity between ethnic groups. Even when we compare people of similar age, social grade and living situation (similar area, with or without children), those of Black ethnicity are 2.4 times less likely than those of White ethnicity to have a private garden.
Access to public parks is more evenly distributed, with people from minority ethnic groups almost as likely as White people to say their local greenspaces are “within easy walking distance” (86% compared with 88%).
People from minority ethnic groups are less likely to have access to a private garden
Percentage of people with access to a private garden, by ethnic group, England, 2014 to 2019
People in semi-skilled and unskilled manual occupations, casual workers and those who are unemployed are almost three times as likely as those in managerial, administrative, professional occupations to be without a garden (20% compared with 7%).
Meanwhile, older people – at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and advised to stay at home as much as possible – are among those most likely to have access to a garden. Just 8% of people aged 65 years and over are without access to any kind of private outdoor space.
About the data
With most people staying at home to limit the spread of COVID-19, we have used a combination of data sources to look into how many people have access to a garden and how far they are from their nearest park.
Ordnance Survey (OS) has provided us with data on access by geographic areas of Great Britain, as part of its mapping for emergencies service.
We use Natural England’s Monitor for Engagement in the Natural Environment (MENE) survey to examine differences by personal characteristics (such as ethnicity, age and socio-economic group). The MENE survey covers England only.
Gardens in London are 26% smaller than the national average and the smallest of any region or country in Great Britain.
The median garden size for a house in London is 140 square metres, just over half the size of a tennis court. This compares with 188 square metres across Great Britain and 226 square metres in Scotland (the largest).
There is wide variation by local authority, with gardens in Na h-Eileanan Siar in Scotland more than 45 times as big (on average) as in the City of London (a median of 727 square metres compared with 16 square metres).
Explore access to gardens (and their typical size) in your neighbourhood
- The data used to create this map do not allow individual people or households to be identified. Building groups are shaded to give a sense of the population density in an area.
As well as gardens, our analysis looks at how far people have to travel to their nearest park or playing field.
Using Ordnance Survey (OS) data, we estimate that more than a quarter of people (28%) in Great Britain live within a five-minute walk (300m as the crow flies) of a public park, while 72% live fewer than 15 minutes away (900m).
This rises to 52% and 95% respectively when we include playing fields, although our data cannot distinguish public and private playing fields so some of these areas may not be publicly accessible.
Despite being least likely to have access to a private garden, people living in London are most likely to have a park nearby. OS data show that 44% of Londoners live within a five-minute walk of a park, rising to 58% including playing fields. Both are the highest of any region or country in Great Britain.
Parks are most accessible in the poorest areas, with people in the most deprived neighbourhoods of England around twice as likely as those in the least deprived to be within five minutes’ walk of a public park (34% compared with 18%). Including playing fields, this rises to 57% compared with 42%.
We see similar trends in Wales and Scotland, with greater access among those living in more deprived areas.
Parks and playing fields could be seen as especially valuable to those without access to a private garden, but some have closed temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic with people failing to maintain social distance from one another.
The average park in Great Britain serves just under 2,000 people, although some parks in densely populated areas cater for many more. Around 46,000 people have Clapham Common as their nearest park, more than 20 times the average.
The government has published guidance for owners and operators of public spaces in England. Up-to-date guidance on social distancing is available separately for people living in England, Scotland and Wales.