In November 2009 the Mayor launched London's Great Outdoors, his Manifesto for Public Space PDF (opens in new window) and promised a boost for London's network of public spaces, knowing that if we could make that network work better, piece by piece, this would improve the lives of everyone who lives in and enjoys our city.
London's Great Outdoors recognises that investment in public space enhances the look and feel of the city, making it a more healthy and pleasant place for residents and visitors and an environment in which businesses can thrive. It contributes to maintaining and improving London's image as the world’s most green and liveable big city and highlights London's offer as a city that can sustain economic growth.
It is an ambitious collaborative project, working with every borough and the people who can make a difference in localities across London. It is a long term effort, not just a single action. The Great Outdoors project is so bold and extensive that you have to zoom out to recognise it as one, assembled from hundreds of carefully shaped interventions.
A few of those fragments have been dramatic even as stand-alones. The creation of the Olympic Park soon to be transformed into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the bold makeover of Exhibition Road, and the undoing of the gyratory traffic system at Piccadilly, are no small matters, but they are just fragments of a much larger project to gradually and carefully recalibrate the historic fabric of London to suit twenty first century needs and aspirations, making it more continuous, connected, open to all and popular.
The public spaces of the city are becoming less segregated and shared by pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers, goods vehicles, taxis, buses, party-goers, runners, dog-walkers, traders and trees. We want to nurture a vibrant public life for all, and that's the point of investing in and celebrating London’s great outdoors.