Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in Northwood, on the outskirts of London, is starting work on a two-year programme to redesign several green spaces in the hospital grounds. The centre, run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, was founded as a tuberculosis sanatorium; the original building is now occupied by offices. Its terraces and balconies, once used for fresh air treatment, overlook a large expanse of lawn, with a grove of mature trees nearby.

Current plans, drawn up with a landscape designer, include the creation of a green walking route around this area, inviting both patients and staff to enjoy the grounds. The trust will also be replanting and refurbishing a sunken dell garden adjacent to its chemotherapy suite, including a new access ramp and exterior power-points for patients to receive treatment outdoors. Plans for 2020 include revitalisation of two terraces and a courtyard garden, serving the centre’s wards.

Ginnie Abubakar, the trust’s community engagement manager, initiated the project, with support from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, after attending a talk about green gyms and realising that what their site lacked in indoor space, it more than made up for in outdoor space. In a survey, 90% of staff said they would like to make more use of green space at their workplace. Mount Vernon is 15km from Heathrow Airport, and is undertaking the work with a grant from the Heathrow Community Fund, together with the efforts of volunteers.

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