The Case for Open Space
Attitudes toward open space are changing as a growing body of evidence points toward the economic, social and environmental benefits that it can bring to development projects; the success of the King’s Cross redevelopment including Granary Square and the Camley Street nature reserve are a case in point. Here are 10 reasons for considering the addition of open space in new developments:
- It’s a planning requirement. Open space and play space requirements are typically found in Local Plans. Whether it’s the Council’s own standard, the Fields In Trust Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play – Beyond the Six Acre Standard or the London Plan’s Supplementary Planning Guidance: Shaping Neighbourhoods: Play and Informal Recreation, meeting these requirements will be a key element in achieving planning permission for a scheme.
- It’s persuasive to councillors. Over 70% of councillors in England and Wales, when asked what would make housing development more acceptable, identified greater benefits for the local community, including green spaces.
- It increases land value. On average, 15% of developers would be willing to pay at least 3% more for land in close proximity to open space, with the premium as high as 15–20% for some.
- It increases property value. Properties within 0.5km of a park can benefit from a 16% increase in value. Whilst a study this year found that properties with ocean views saw an average 30% increase in value, river vistas a 24% boost and canal side views an 18% increase in average price.
- It increases footfall and dwell time. Research has shown that good public space in town centres can boost commercial trading by up to 40%, making it an attractive proposition for retailers.
- It makes room for sustainable drainage. Surface water flooding has become a particular focus of the Environment Agency, home owners and businesses alike. Open space provides the opportunity to implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) that not only address the potential for surface water flooding, they are cheaper than traditional drainage solutions and also help secure policy compliance.
- It reduces the urban heat island effect. Studies have suggested that increasing the current area of green infrastructure in Greater Manchester by 10% (in areas with little or no green cover) would result in a cooling by up to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
- It helps promote wellbeing. Access to good-quality, well-maintained public spaces can help to improve physical and mental health by encouraging us to walk more, to play sport, or simply to enjoy a green and natural environment; this is backed by a University of Exeter study of over 10,000 participants and 18 years of data.
- It helps promote social cohesion. A strong sense of community has been associated with increased feelings of safety and security, participation in community affairs and civic responsibility.
- It brings ecological benefits. With appropriate consideration of the siting of open space (to improve linkages with surrounding areas), as well as the mix of tree and plant species incorporated, it can bring ecological benefits, encouraging wildlife back into urban areas.
So open spaces are a win-win; great for the residents, a tick for planners and an increase in returns for developers – isn’t it time to move them further up the list of priorities?Developer, Environmental, investor, Occupier, Sustainability,
Environmental Planning and Assessment
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