The GREENSPACE Project is assessing how strategic planning can maximize the contribution that different areas of urban greenspace make to our quality of life.  It has analyzed the use that is made of green space and the extent to which existing green space meets the needs of urban inhabitants.  Social scientists have been engaged in establishing the relative importance of green space attributes and the combination of green space types that maximize public welfare, including the economic benefits.  A related work package is developing 3D visual models to simulate green space scenarios.  Through such means, the research has begun to identify how the public benefits of green space can be maximized.

Further information can be obtained from the Project Co-ordinator.

The schematic below shows how the various work packages are linked together.

Progress to date: January 2005

Research is now complete in all seven EU cities (although related work in continuing in Dublin and Zurich).  A final report (+CD including examples of decision support package application) can be obtained from the Project Co-ordinator (please indicate if you require hard copy, CD or both) or via by using the link below.  Individual contractors can supply further information directly. 

In Dublin (University College Dublin), the research has addressed the public benefits of green space in relation to the built environment and to different socio-economic groups. The value of several key characteristics of green space has being demonstrated through responses of to a choice experiment (a variation on conjoint analysis) under which a householders were asked to compare different green space scenarios.  The value of these characteristics could be quantified individually or in combination (i.e. as a common type of green space).  Furthermore, by using (the value) of leisure time as a "price attribute" the characteristics could also be quantified in monetary terms for the purposes of a cost-benefit analysis of green space.

The research indicates that people place highest value on a good level of facilities such as surfaced paths and seating, while nearby local are preferred to large parks in cases where the latter are one level of distance further away.  Distinct differences in preferences occur between types of user, such as regular/irregular users, families/others, and different socio-economic class. 

Very similar approaches were used in Eindhoven (Technological University of Eindhoven) and Surrey (University of Surrey & University of Brighton).  The TU/e study examined many more green space characteristics (22 in all) and rather than calling upon survey respondents to choose between sites, asked them to allocate numbers of trips to different park types.  As in Dublin, the research indicated the importance of distance, but found that park size was influential, the latter being partly related to the opportunity to conduct different activities.  Once again, distinct differences in preferences were found betwen various types of user as indicated by type of household, gender or age.

At the universities of Surrey and Brighton, both the use and non-use value of green space in Brighton were investigated, including people’s assessment of the role of green space to neighbourhoods and the wider community.  At neighbourhood level, park maintenance was revealed to be very important.  Interestingly, an quasi-private attachment to local parks is indicated by an apparent reluctance to see outsiders (or certain types of outsiders) using the park.  By comparison, this was not an issue at city or citizen level where, instead, hosting of events, refreshment areas, special activity areas and natural areas emerge as more prominent.  

Most contractors incorporated their survey findings in a process of public participation, but at UniS/UB this was extended to provide an evaluation tool for public participation in green space management. 

A futher conjoint analysis was undertaken at the Autonomous University of Barcelona complemented by the use of photo-montages.  Here, the results indicated a dominance of likelihood of use as a factor influencing preferences more than personal characteristics.   Although some of Barcelona's new open spaces have won admirers amongst urban designers, the survey revealed a clear preference for greenery over architectural features. 

In Aberdeen (Robert Gordon University & the Macaulay Institute), another conjoint analsysis approach was applied, namely contingent rating.  Both here, and in Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ), this method has been combined with 3D visualisations of green space, including dynamic "walk through" images, to better demonstrate the role of environmental conditions, aesthetics, enclosure, and vegetation.  In this way, visualisation has been a communication tool for the purposes of preference assessment in public surveys.   The studies again examined preference for green space characterisitcs, but both specifically addressed the issue of safety and enclosure.  The visualization permits an examination of the relative role of aesthetic and functional factors on people's use of open space.

In Aberdeen, visualisation was also combined with the survey data in the decision support system (DSS) with a focus of the characteristics of green space and its accessibility.  TU/e, on the other hand, is developing a DSS with an emphasis on the value of various green space types to different neighbourhoods and to different socio-economic groups.  Both approaches have been designed with practical planning applications in mind and use spatial GIS representation including demographic data to demonstrate the relative benefits of different green space portfolios.  Potentially, the models could be adapted to include other public amenities.  

In Stuttgart, the University of Hohenheim has provided the municipality with a GIS based biotope mapping tool by which parks managers can identify the relative importance of different areas in terms of their biodiversity and fragility.  It is hoped that this will facilitate biodiversity planning and recreation management so as to ensure the most harmonious provision of public benefits.

For a copy of the final report (excepting all space-consuming images), please use the link below of (better) contact the Co-ordinator for a full copy by post.  To download, right-click on the link below and select 'Save Target' or 'Save Target As' from the pop-up menu.

Final report part 1 (pdf 2.7 MB) and part 2 (decision support tools (pdf 6.67MB)


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