THOUSANDS of Southampton residents are living in the areas with little or no green space, according to a major new study.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) says it has identified 1,257 neighbourhoods across the country that are too built-up, including huge swathes of Southampton.

More than 40% of England’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities live in areas with the worst shortage of green space.

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FoE is urging the government to spend £4bn a year on tackling the issue.

A spokesman said: "New research from Friends of the Earth, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, shows one in five people in England struggle to access quality green space - be it private gardens, public parks or open fields.

"The research shows that millions of us lack basic access to green space and nature, with income and ethnicity being huge factors.

"The findings further demonstrate that people from BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by a worsening environment - often living with dire air pollution, little in the way of green spaces and greater risk from the impacts of extreme weather."

According to FoE the most nature-deprived areas in the country include 14 parts of Southampton.

They are Aldermoor and Lordswood, Coxford and Lords Hill, Maybush, St Denys, Shirley South, Bitterne East, Bevois Town, Harefield, Regents Park and Millbrook East, Banister Park and Howard Road, Freemantle, Newtown and Nicholstown, Hightown and Weston.

Parts of Fareham and Gosport are also on the list.

FoE nature campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said: "For many of us lockdown exposed how critical quality outdoor space and nature is for our health and wellbeing.

"But our research shows just how much of a distant reality that is for millions of people across England who live in nature-deprived neighbourhoods.

"Everyone has the right to live in a healthy environment. Greener neighbourhoods, well insulated homes and high-quality cycling routes are some of the key parts of this.

“The forthcoming spending review is an opportunity to make people happier and healthier, improve equality, and help fix the climate crisis. This would be a triple win for government investment."

Laura Chow is head of charities at People's Postcode Lottery, which helped fund the research.

She said: "We are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of access to green space for our mental and physical wellbeing, and it’s vital that no groups are excluded."

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Last night Steve Leggett, the city council's cabinet member for green city and Place, gave his response to the study.

He said: “We recognise the importance of parks and open spaces and the many health and wellbeing benefits that they bring.

"They have been enjoyed by many over the summer and are an important asset to Southampton, which is why we recently announced that £690,000 has been set aside to refurbish 17 play areas, and a further £510,000 for general improvements to open spaces.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the refurbishments and improvements made to some of the city’s popular play areas and green spaces and hope they will be used and enjoyed by children, families and visitors alike for many years to come.

“Added to this, in recent years the council has renovated play areas at Mayfield, at Mansel Park in Millbrook, built a popular new play area at the Common, and regenerated Blechynden Gardens near Southampton Central Station.

“Protecting and enhancing the natural environment is just one of the goals set out in the Green City Plan.

"Green spaces not only provide residents and visitors a space to enjoy, but the trees and wildflowers growing across the city provides a natural environment for local wildlife to thrive.”