Perhaps the biggest surprise for visitors to Middlesbrough is quite how verdant the town is.
From pockets of greenery to acres of parkland, Middlesbrough’s town centre is a breath of fresh air. Centre Square itself adds to the flora with neatly manicured lawns and a wealth of trees. And this is set to flourish with the future development of Centre Square, which will have a profusion of wild and cultivated plants, as well as lawns that will enhance the public realm.
The town’s emerald in the crown is Albert Park. With chestnut tree-lined boulevards, wild flower meadow, regal clock and a stately central fountain, a day spent in this Victorian park is a delight, whether roses are in bloom or snow is on the ground. This Green Flag park covers over 100 acres and includes play areas, boating lake, roller skating rink, visitor centre and café, fishing platforms and sports facilities and has been central to Middlesbrough’s relaxation since its founding in 1861. Equally significant is Stewart Park, an oasis of rolling parkland, conifer arboretum and two sets of lakes. It is also of note as the birthplace of the explorer, navigator and cartographer Captain James Cook.
The evocatively named Fairy Dell, in the middle of Marton and Coulby Newham, is a haven for wildlife with its steeply wooded banks, becks, lakes, woodland and grassy glades. It is also a tranquil place for local people to enjoy a slice of countryside without leaving Middlesbrough.
Regular and easy access to green space is crucial for wellbeing and several respected studies highlight links between access to green space and positive wellbeing. The highly regarded medical journal The Lancet has suggested exposure to green space is associated with lower all-cause mortality and death from circulatory disease in lower income areas.
Other studies also reported positive wellbeing associated with green spaces: improved self-rated health, lower systolic blood pressure and risk of hypertension, reduced noise annoyance and stress-related psychosocial symptoms, better mental health and vitality, reduced stress and reduced obesity, particularly in children. Most importantly, neighbourhood satisfaction is a key benefit.