Green spaces can have a massive social and economic value according to a report published this week

The annual report of the open space management charity, the Land Trust details how six of its spaces have had a massive effect on a range of vital issues, including selling houses, flood resilience and bringing landfill sites back into beneficial use.

Euan Hall Chief Executive of the Trust, comments “People enjoy and really value open spaces yet we always seem to categories them as ‘nice to haves’ and their worth in economic terms is grossly undervalued.  However it’s a simple connection to make that when people value something it has financial and therefore economic worth. For example one of the case studies in our annual report is Elba Park in Sunderland, where the park was created alongside plots for 359 houses. Creating the park before the housing was a key move. When the first houses came up for sale, they did so alongside an attractive green space, one of the best parks in the region and something that people would want to live next to. As such the Park makes the houses higher in value and more saleable. That’s without even considering the enormous value to society in terms of health, education, the environment and social cohesion that this park delivers. ”

The report also looks at how open space can affect the planning system.

Hall continues, “The National Planning Policy Framework created much debate about ‘sustainable development’ which was polarised around economic development versus environmental ruin. However, our spaces prove that you can have both. At as Festival Gardens in Liverpool for instance the housing development was approved, where other had failed, because of the inclusion of open space and the identification of the Land Trust as the long term managers”.

Also included in the report are details of some of the outputs achieved by the Land Trust’s 50 open spaces this year which includes over 4500 people taking part in health activities, over 3,000 people volunteering and 3,500 children that attended educational visits.
Hall concludes “These benefits will only happen when spaces are properly managed long term.  Failure to adequately manage space that results in them becoming neglected and this will reduce the value of assets around them and cause all manner of social issues. As such if we want a planning system that works, to create places where people want to live and deliver economic and environmental prosperity then we have to provide open spaces. ”

A copy of the Land Trust Annual, which also include case studies of Northumberlandia, the iconic Landform Sculpture in the North East, Port Sunlight River Park a new park being created on a former landfill, Beam Parklands a flood storage area which is also award winning park and Kiveton Community Woodland, a former colliery which has delivered massive community benefit, report can be downloaded from the Land Trust Website http://www.thelandtrust.org.uk/business/downloads.html?CatID=13