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University urged to open up garden squares during lockdown

People can only look into the oasis of green as they look for lockdown respite

23 April, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Locked up: Gordon Square [Photo: Simon Lamrock]

GARDEN squares in one of the borough’s most densely populated areas are being kept shut during the coronavirus outbreak, despite government calls for parks to be kept open. The University of London, which owns the green spaces behind Euston Road, said it could not guarantee social distancing by users.

Gordon Square, considered a bluebell oasis in King’s Cross, was left padlocked this week. “The University of London have such disregard for their neighbours,” said one. “It isn’t much to ask for Gordon Square to be reopened for elderly neighbours to have the use of some outside pace. It would also take the pressure off other squares.”

People are allowed out of their homes during the lockdown for one form of exercise a day, and council leader Georgia Gould said last week that “having green space is absolutely vital for people’s mental health and well-being”.

Parks are seen as particularly vital for people without gardens, as long as visitors maintain a two-metre distance from each other. The Town Hall’s environment chief Labour councillor Adam Harrison said: “It remains a shame that Gordon Square is closed. Bloomsbury ward councillors have asked the University of London to open it, but the answer at the moment remains no. We’ll continue to pursue it though.”

Cartwright Gardens and Woburn Square also remain locked.

A spokesperson from the University of London said: “At this point in time we cannot ensure the appropriate social distancing and safety of visitors as well as staff who manage the space so it is with regret that we will continue to keep the facility closed until further notice.”

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