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Save our Sunlight: The People of Old Paradise Gardens

A few weeks ago, the Garden Museum launched a petition asking the London Mayor to guarantee six hours of sunlight for the city’s green public spaces.

Current planning policy for London requires just two hours of direct sunlight on a park, playground or wildlife area (as measured on the equinoxes of 21 March and 21 September). This means that local neighbourhood parks could be overshadowed by a new development, or in darkness, for 22 hours a day. And in mid-winter, when the sun is even lower, parks and playgrounds can be in permanent shadow and still meet current guidelines.

This two hour rule is about to become official policy in the Mayor’s new London Plan. At a time when London faces countless bids to build high-rise towers, that policy could plunge the lives of thousands of Londoners, plants, and bumblebees, into darkness. These guidelines were drawn up to apply to all spaces between buildings, from car parks to shopping arcades. But the Garden Museum believes that green spaces are different.

We’re thrilled that over 7000 people have showed their support and signed the petition so far, and we’ve been joined in our campaign by London Wildlife Trust, London Skyline Campaign, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Stop the Blocks, the London Gardens Trust, Lambeth Village, and the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens Association. Liberal Democrat and Green Assembly Members support the campaign and have pledged to raise the issue in the new mayoral term.


Garden photographer Rachel Warne, best known for her stunning photos in publications such as Gardens Illustrated, recently photographed our neighbours in their local park, Old Paradise Gardens. Here’s what they have to say about the importance of the petition to save our sunlight:

Fawzia Kane: “The year of the pandemic has proved that well-sunlit green spaces, accessible to all, are essential. Light is life!”

Denis Doucakis: “Our park is a lovely space, please don’t rob it of its sunlight.”

Ghazala Butt: “Please do not take our daylight. This will affect our wellbeing, and we have already suffered enough through the global pandemic.”

Nancy and NHS worker Marcus Sophocleous: “It’s unbelievable to build flats and offices in an area [the size of a] postage stamp, blocking out light from people’s homes.”

Ola Daly (right, with Diana Mukuma): I come to the park regularly with my two children (one and three). It’s a lovely space for them to explore; it feels safe and welcoming.

John Sweeney, Investigative journalist, broadcaster

Planters in Old Paradise Gardens, created by the Garden Museum in partnership with Lambeth Council, with friendly chalk graffiti added by local residents! Thank you to Taylor’s of Holbeach for donating the bulbs through the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens Association.