Seven green spaces in and around Croydon which are protected by the City of London Corporation have been granted prestigious Green Flag status.
Coulsdon Common, Kenley Common, Farthing Downs and Riddlesdown, plus Spring Park and West Wickham Common in Bromley and Ashtead Common in Surrey all picked up the prize.
Six of the spaces, managed by City Commons, have also won Green Heritage Awards in recognition of their historic features and the high standard of conservation – with it being the first win for Coulsdon Common.
The international award, run by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, is overseen by a panel of expert judges.
Now into its third decade, the accolades are awarded to green spaces in recognition of their high environmental standards, levels of maintenance and visitor facilities. It rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard across the UK and globally.
Fifteen green spaces run by the City Corporation won the Green Flag this year and 14 others received the Green Heritage accreditation.
Graeme Doshi-Smith, the chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, said, “These sites have been a lifeline for visitors during the coronavirus pandemic, helping people get exercise and fresh air and benefiting both mental and physical health.
“They are treasured by our local communities and international visitors alike.
“I thank our staff and volunteers for the excellent job they do in maintaining the sites to such a high standard, keeping them accessible for everyone and giving people the opportunity to explore the natural world.”
The Commons comprise four separate, registered charities, and rely on the public for income and donations to protect 11,000 acres of outstanding environments attracting 2.5million visits annually.
They receive more than £2.5m from the City Corporation to protect the sites, which stretch from Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common in Buckinghamshire to the borders of south London, Croydon and Surrey, including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath.
These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
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