Better green spaces will create a fairer, healthier society
6 July 2010
Dominy Bird, 020 7070 6772, firstname.lastname@example.org
A new research study from CABE reveals that thousands of hectares of development land and open space on social housing estates are currently not being used because of poor quality. This represents a major opportunity to tackle inequality and improve health and wellbeing in inner cities.
Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health has found that people view provision of green space as a key service, alongside housing, education and policing. Yet less than one per cent of people living in social housing reported they use the green space on their estate.
The quantity of green space also varies enormously across inner cities: where residents are almost entirely white, there is 11 times more green space than where 40% of residents are black or minority ethnic.
Half of the 500 people interviewed said they would do more exercise if green spaces were improved, and half expected they would have better mental health.
The biggest barriers to using green space were fear about personal safety, lack of facilities and poor quality. Only half of Bangladeshi people reported feeling safe using their local green space, compared with three quarters of white people interviewed.
CABE recommends there should be more scope for communities to take over temporarily vacant land, and that RSLs and local authorities responsible for green spaces should work with voluntary groups to make it easier for people to improve the green spaces on their doorsteps.
Sarah Gaventa, Director of Public Space at CABE, said:
‘Improving green space benefits those that have most to gain, especially people living in flats. There are four million households living in social housing, and half of those residents are under 16. Even when funding is tight, green deserts can still be transformed into lovely, safe places where people want to be.’
Professor Danny Dorling, author of Injustice: Why social inequality persists,said:
‘This research shows that the inequality in provision of green space between communities with large and small black and minority ethnic communities is even worse than inequality in schooling, crime, housing, jobs and health.’
Notes to editors
- Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve was carried out by OPENspace research centre, Edinburgh College of Art, in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University. The study is based on interviews with 523 people in six deprived areas of the country and a literature review of over 150 publications and community projects.
- CABE, in partnership with the National Housing Federation has published a practical action plan which identifies ten priorities to improve the quality of the green spaces on social housing estates. Decent homes need decent spaces can be downloaded from www.cabe.org.uk/publications/decent-homes-need-decent-spaces
- Professor Danny Dorling, author of Injustice: Why social inequality persists will be speaking at the launch event on Tuesday 6 July.
- For images or contact details for social housing residents please contact Dominy Bird on 020 7070 6772 or email email@example.com
- CABE is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. As a public body, we encourage policymakers to create places that work for people. We help local planners apply national design policy and offer expert advice to developers and architects. We show public sector clients how to commission buildings that meet the needs of their users. And we seek to inspire the public to demand more from their buildings and spaces. Advising, influencing and inspiring, we work to create well-designed, welcoming places. www.cabe.org.uk