How 'green' is your city centre? The best and worst in Britain ranked

Exeter has come top of a list of urban centres in Britain based on its "green" credentials, including trees and parks.

The city is followed by Islington, Bristol, Bournemouth and Cambridge, according to research by the University of Sheffield.

Meanwhile, Glasgow was ranked the least "green" city centre according to the study's criteria, with Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leeds, making up the bottom five.

Scientists looked at 68 places across England, Scotland and Wales - with populations of at least 100,000 - ranking them on tree cover, vegetation and parks in the city centres.

While previous studies have looked at the "greenness" of whole cities, including suburban areas, this is the first to focus specifically on the heart of cities.

Dr Paul Brindley, from the university's department of landscape architecture, said: "By 2050 nearly 70 per cent of the world's population are projected to be living in towns and cities," adding that green spaces "boost people's wellbeing and are essential to biodiversity".

All five of the "greenest" city centres are in the South of Britain, whilst the five city centres with the least green attributes are in the North. Dr Brindley said this "clearly highlights the need to urgently improve the greenness of city centres at the bottom of the list".

The research - published in the journal Plos One - also uncovered a link between a lower "greenness" score and higher levels of deprivation.

But not everyone agrees with the study, including Glasgow - which was ranked bottom.

A city council spokesperson told Sky News: "The very specific and narrow parameters used in this report do not give a true picture of green space and trees in the city centre.

"The city has a well-deserved reputation as a place with a great deal of greenspace, with 20% of the land in the city being exactly that."

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History also plays an important factor in the ranking of some places as the research examined urban centres - the focus of work, leisure and shopping - and not predominately suburbs where people live.

Many sites in northern Britain grew around trade, commerce and industry, which shaped their city centres, but workers often lived in the suburbs and had access to green spaces.

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