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Urban Parks and Accessibility

Community Green

Access to city parks has always been an important and ongoing topic for planners, landscape architects, and city officials. In the early days, urban parks were only found in upper-class neighborhoods, as those individuals realized the potential for city parks and had the means to create these spaces as well. Parks have since become a representation of equality, where everyone is allowed to share and enjoy the same space. Indeed that was the vision held by Frederick Law Olmsted when he was designing parks throughout the United States.

According to two new articles, however, access to city parks is greatly diminished when living in a less-affluent section of the city. London’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment recently released the report Community Green, which studied the relationship between “urban green space, inequality, ethnicity, health and well-being” in the inner-cities of the United Kingdom. A key finding of the report concluded that residents living in a deprived inner-city area have access to five times fewer public parks and good quality general green space than people in more affluent areas.

This is an important issue for cities to tackle, as research has shown that green space plays a role in easing racial tensions and promoting diversity, using activities such as sports and even casual walks in the park. The article continues to give other examples of the social benefits of clean, usable urban parks, and certain steps that should be taken in the future.

In Decent Homes Need Decent Spaces, written in conjunction with the National Housing Federation of the United Kingdom, the authors lay out an “action plan” to improve open spaces in social housing areas. The plan offers suggestions for ways landlords can provide more effective open space, which in turn gives people a safe and livable landscape near their homes. Examples include involving residents in decisions, recognizing the larger issues at stake while still maintaining a localized agenda, and making the best use of funding.

For more information about the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, visit their website.

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