PARKS and common land such as Jessel Green could be saving individuals and the government hundreds of pounds each year.

In a newly published report which asked 4,000 adults across the UK to attach a monetary value to dozens of different scenarios, researchers at Fields in Trust concluded green spaces are worth £30.24 to each person, every year.

The report also found the NHS saved at least £111 million annually based solely on prevented GP visits from extra outdoor activity.

Perhaps most strikingly, the researchers found that wellbeing value - which is based on measurements of life satisfaction including physical and mental health - is significantly higher for frequent park and green space users compared to non-users.

An individual would need to be compensated by £974 a year to replace the life satisfaction they would have gained from using their local park or green space once a month.

The report underlines the importance of Epping Forest's green spaces and parks, which are increasingly under threat from building projects.

In Epping Forest District Council's Local Plan, many of the proposed 11,400 homes will be built on green land, including 154 on Loughton's Jessel Green and dozens more on a field in south Epping.

Stephen Murray, independent councillor for Loughton Roding, said: "This latest research from the Fields in Trust provides further evidence of the importance of saving Jessel Green in Loughton.

"I have emailed the report to every member of the council so they can reflect on their majority decision to destroy the integrity of Jessel Green.

"Once its gone its gone.

"Even if the recent election results in every single of the seven Loughton wards don't send the local Conservatives a clear message, perhaps this well researched and argued report will."

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for the council to backtrack on its proposals to destroy Jessel Green and many of the signatories echoed the report's reasoning.

Loughton resident Brenton Wait wrote: "Not only does this green space have incredible value in terms of it's recreational uses and enhancement of wellbeing, increasing housing density in this manner is unsustainable and has been inadequately supported in terms of schools, services and transport links."

Fear over the loss of green spaces is not confined to Epping Forest however.

Previous Fields in Trust research found one in six people across the UK say their local park or green space is under threat of being lost or built on.

Helen Griffiths, chief executive of the charity, said: "This report clearly demonstrates the economic and wellbeing benefits that parks and green spaces bring to people across the UK. At a time when parks and green spaces are under threat this is valuable evidence that the loss of green space is hugely damaging to people's welfare.

"The research also confirms that any decision by a public body to remove a park or green space is completely short-sighted – and will in fact likely cost more money than is saved.

"The evidence is now clear: green spaces are good, they do good and they need to be protected for good."