LONDON has rightly earned the envy of other European capitals for the green spaces enjoyed by its citizens. I can say that with some personal satisfaction as my desk at the Cabinet Office is not far removed from the leafy expanse of St James’ Park.
Of course not everyone is as fortunate, and I am conscious that people living in deprived inner city areas have five times fewer parks and good quality green space available to them than the rest of the population.
And it comes as no surprise that lack of access to green and open spaces can have a knock-on effect on our economy, as it’s well known that general wellbeing and productivity are closely linked. This holistic concept was very much in evidence on my recent visit to the newly-refurbished Graylands Estate in Langhurstwood Road, Horsham.
Here, a magnificent historic manor house set in verdant grounds with views across Horsham to the South Downs has been regenerated as state of the art business units offering the services of an array of professions: web designers, trainers and life coaches, law firms and accountants, and an impressive new enterprise called Home Instead, concerned with senior care. To name but a few.
The charity launch which I had the pleasure of attending was Verve Properties’ bid to introduce Graylands in its new incarnation - serving the community and providing a working environment which takes account of the complete individual.
So shower/changing rooms have been provided for those wishing to walk, run or cycle and a reinstated croquet lawn sits in harmony with a built-in barbecue.
I feel that the original owner of Graylands, Henry Boyd Wallis, would have approved of this mingling of the old with the new, business with pleasure.
An entrepreneur in his own right as a diamond miner in South Africa, according to The Horsham Society he sought out the tranquillity of the countryside when he moved to Graylands in 1894, and became a supporter of the local Conservative and Unionist Association.
Which calls to mind last week’s debate on reform of the House of Lords. An anachronism in the view of many, the Upper Chamber is nevertheless widely perceived as performing its work well. I like to think that if Henry Boyd Wallis is looking down on Graylands he would celebrate this example of how conserving the good things of the past can benefit future generations.
MP for Horsham