Improving access to greenspace: A new review for 2020

The aim of this report, produced by Public Health England, is to evidence and to start to quantify the multiple benefits of greenspace, in a context in which population growth and budgetary constraints are threatening the existence and maintenance of it. This resource is directed at local authorities who will need the guidance, evidence, and information to make the case to improve the existence and access to green infrastructure.

Date added 5 November 2020
Last updated 5 November 2020

Greenspace includes parks, fields and woodland, but also green elements that can be more easily integrated within the city or built environment context, such as allotments, green walls and roofs, and trees. Years of research suggest that access to greenspace brings about social, economic, and environmental benefits. It can improve the physical and mental wellbeing of citizens, help clean the air, be an asset to manage flooding, aid in cooling the planet, reduce noise pollution, foster stronger communities, and reduce social inequalities.

This report explains that, although it can be quite difficult to measure and quantify the benefits linked to greenspace, new research has started to develop methods to account for natural capital, leading to figures such as the following: ‘£2.1 billion per year could be saved in health costs if everyone in England had good access to greenspace, due to increased physical activity in those spaces’.

This report offers a review of main barriers to use of greenspace, such as perception of safety, distance to these spaces, poor health, or differences in cultural norms of its users. Consequently, this report offers policy, practice and research recommendations for local government and those working in partnership with it. These recommendations include aspects such as: bringing greenspace in areas of deprivation, in regards to policy; putting initiatives in place to make sure that people who do not currently use greenspace, are encouraged to do so, in regards to practice; or monitoring greenspace interventions to create a knowledge database and support further investment, in regards to research.

The report concludes by highlighting that, although action across these three areas is needed at the local level, partnership and development of shared agendas across organisational boundaries are essential.