Green spaces, from parks and gardens to street trees and pocket parks, are all vitally important for our quality of life and health in urban areas. Urban green space can support recreation, relaxation, health and community building, as well providing space for wildlife, absorbing rainwater and removing harmful air pollutants, but with such far reaching benefits, how do we ensure that these abilities are fully understood? And moving forward, how do we ensure these spaces are therefore protected or enhanced by new development, when considering urban growth and intensification?
Across the property industry this challenge has been growing in prominence, as we seek to tackle the UK growing housing crisis by building at higher densities within urban areas, while also ensuring we do not repeat the mistakes of previous generations. But with local authority budgets under increasing pressure, green infrastructure is frequently seen as a cost rather than a benefit, while town planning, which guides its provision, all too often utilises blunt space standards.
Beyond quantitative standards, there is a clear lack of tools available, through which we might appraise or value the quality or success of open space, beyond expensive, time consuming and often subjective site surveys.
As such local authorities, park managers, property developers & investors and anyone else involved in urban creation or development evolve business and policy cases for urban greenspace investment in a relative vacuum.