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Who benefits from access to green space? A case study from Sheffield, UK

Barbosa, O, Tratalos, J.A., Armsworth, P.R., Davies, R.G., Fuller, R.A., Johnson, P. & Gaston, K.J. 2007. Who benefits from access to green space? A case study from Sheffield, UK. Landscape and Urban Planning, 83, 187–195.

Green spaces play a crucial role in supporting urban ecological and social systems, a fact recognised in public policy commitments in both the UK and Europe. The amount of provision, the distribution of green space and the ease of access to such spaces are key contributors to social and ecological function in urban environments. We measured distance along the transport network to public green space available to households in Sheffield, and compared this with the distribution of private garden space. In addition, we used a geodemographic database, Mosaic UK, to examine how access to green space varies across different sectors of society. Public green spaces are chronically underprovided relative to recommended targets. For example, 64% of Sheffield households fail to meet the recommendation of the regulatory agency English Nature (EN), that people should live no further than 300 m from their nearest green space. Moreover, this figure rises to 72% if we restrict attention to municipal parks recognised by the local council. There is an overall reduction in coverage by green space when moving from neighbourhoods where green space is primarily publicly provided to those where it is privately provided. While access to public green space varies significantly across different social groups, those enjoying the greatest access include more deprived groups and older people. This study highlights the need for additional green space to be created and existing green space to be protected in light of increasing development pressure.

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