The legacy of the past industrialisation has led to large areas of derelict land within the urban environment. This coupled with historical reductions in funding for the management of community greenspaces has meant that many urban environments are left with substantial areas or derelict, underused or neglected (DUN) land. Often these lands are in areas that have suffered a decline in the last half of the 20th century, with little inward investment and the resulting pressures on public funding to deal with other social issues such as unemployment, crime or housing. Recently there has been a concerted effort through urban renewal schemes to improve the environmental and social conditions in our towns and cities, both to improve the quality of life of those within these areas and encourage their rejuvenation.
The use of greenspace in neighbourhood renewal can provide a number of benefits to the area. Well-designed and well-managed green infrastructure can deliver:
- Increased environmental and aesthetic quality
- Regeneration of DUN land
- Improvements in quality of place
- Improved quality of life
- Social interaction, inclusion and community cohesion
- Economic regeneration.
Neighbourhood renewal projects can have many positive effects, including replenishing housing stock, increasing urban density and reducing urban sprawl and improvements in the economic success of a city. If these schemes are designed to encompass the provision of green space it can further enhance these benefits.
The role of greenspace in neighbourhood renewal has gained recognition other the past few decades, due to aspirations for high standards of living for all. A number of organisations and independent charities are involved in the renewal of urban greenspace, and The Department for Communities and Local Government now leads a number of initiatives to raise the profile of green space and enhance its quality. These initiatives have helped to bring about a halt in the decline of the quality of green space in many neighbourhoods and raise the standard of deprived areas.
Neighbourhood renewal funds have been supplied since 2001 to areas of deprivation for use on greenspace provision, in order to narrow the gap between deprived areas and the rest of the country.
Clyde Waterfront is a strategic partnership comprising the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Glasgow City, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire Councils. Its purpose is to promote the economic, social and environmental regeneration of 13 miles of the River Clyde from Glasgow city centre to Dumbarton. Clyde Waterfront's Green spaces will be developed to create a green network along the river and a Green Network will be developed to become an integral part of Clyde Waterfront’s appeal, encouraging leisure activity and connecting visitor destinations.
The London Development Agency (LDA) has been working to regenerate areas of derelict land along 40 miles of the Thames Gateway, including the Docklands area.
The Forest Research Social and Economic Research Group carries out a range of work across the urban and rural continuum. The Social and Economic Research Group provides advice to the Forestry Commission and the forestry or greenspace sector on social and economic issues related to woodlands and greenspaces.
Further information can be obtained from CABE on integrating green space in existing urban areas.
National Audit Office (NAO) (2006). Enhancing urban green space. Report by the comptroller and auditor general. HC 935, Session 2005-2006. National Audit Office, London.
Natural Economy Northwest (2008). The economic benefits of Green Infrastructure: The public and business case for investing in Green Infrastructure and a review of the underpinning evidence (PDF-1580K). NENW, London.