Prior + Partners recently had the privilege of supporting Grow2Know, who were debuting the 'world’s smallest show garden' at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. The work raises awareness of the lack of green space available to the most deprived households in one of the wealthiest but unequal boroughs in the UK.
In collaborating with this pioneering Grenfell-born non-profit, Prior + Partners have used our expertise in urban analytics and spatial planning to provide the data and analysis to support Grow2Know’s navigation of this complex socio-spatial issue.
In order to understand the equity of access to public parks and gardens, Prior + Partner’s research compared the best and worst served areas of Notting Dale and Queen’s Gate wards in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The data reveals that the worst served residents in Notting Dale, the ward where Grenfell is situated and Grow2Know was born, have access to only 42 m2 of total public parks and gardens per person within a 1km radius (approx. 12min walk), equivalent to just 3 parking bays. In comparison, their neighbours in the best served area in Queen's Gate ward, less than two miles away, have access to 2,149 m2 per person, the equivalent to two 5-a-side football pitches.
In addition to the unequal access to green space, the data unveils that residents in Notting Dale are amongst the most deprived in the country, with more than 80% of the population living in highly deprived areas as per the English Indices of Multiple Deprivation. This compares to the population of Queen’s Gate who represent some of the most affluent in the UK – among the 10% least deprived in England.
There is also a significant difference in life expectancy between those living in the Notting Dale vs. Queen’s Gate. Men living in Notting Dale are expected to live 9 years less while women are expected to live 4 years less than their counterparts in Queens Gate.
Speaking on the research, Jason Prior, Founding Director at Prior + Partners has said:
‘We are pleased to have been able to support Grow2Know in this great initiative. Our team used open source, publicly available data to provide an evidence base and to help illustrate the issues that the ‘Green Divide’ represents. This is a complex socio-spatial issue that we will be continuing to explore through our professional practice work and research.’
The importance of having access to green space and contact with nature is imperative to improved public health, childhood development and general wellbeing outcomes1. The Green Divide is also having a crucial effect on our public health systems as research reveals that frequent personal use of parks or green space is estimated to save the NHS at least £100m a year from fewer visits to the GP2.
Constructed to make a statement, the garden is 4.2 m2, a 1:10 scale representation of the worst served, most deprived residents living in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The concrete build signifies the harsh truth of inequality within the borough, while hardy native plants emerge through a large open crack representing the ‘Green Divide’.
Speaking on the garden, Tayshan Hayden-Smith, Founder of Grow2Know shared:
“Making the most of the small exhibit space at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, we’re using the opportunity to raise awareness of the ‘Green Divide’ through the world’s smallest show garden. The 4.2 m2 build signifies the amount of green space available to one of the most deprived wards in RBKC – a visual representation of the stark reality of inequality within the borough.”
“As an organisation that strongly believes everyone should have equal access to green space, we are dedicated to driving and inspiring change, and we’ll make it our mission to make gardening more inclusive and naturally accessible to all through ongoing community driven gardening projects and education.”
While visitors may expect to see some of the world’s most exotic and sought after plants at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Grow2Know’s The Green Divide garden featured local plants and weeds, including Dandelion, Thyme and Chamomile that residents would expect to find in the streets of the local community, just a stone's throw away from the grounds of where the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is held.
To find out more and to help Grow2Know on its mission to close the green gap, visit:
Prior + Partners analysis of the borough has been derived from the Office for National Statistics / Ordnance Survey (ONS/OS) ’Access to Parks or Public Gardens’ dataset which provides the total area in square metres (sqm) of public parks or gardens that can be accessed within a 1 km radius of each household averaged per Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA*).
This figure is then divided by the population of that LSOA to arrive at the average sqm of parks and public gardens that each person living in that LSOA can access within a 1 km radius. This is assuming that only the people living in that area are accessing the associated public parks and gardens within a 1 km radius.
*LSOA Definition: Lower layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are a geographic hierarchy designed to improve the reporting of small area statistics in England and Wales. They comprise between 400 and 1,200 households and have a usually resident population between 1,000 and 3,000 persons. Population figures have been used from the 2021 Census.
1 Friends of the Earth, England’s Green Space Gap report, 2020
2 Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, Filed in Trust, 2018