Should Town Planners Incorporate Green Spaces into City Centre Development?
More and more people are moving towards urbanised living, leaving the suburbs behind. The myths of city centre deprivation are long gone and people are aspiring to live in desirable city centre residences. The city centre culture is changing, with residents looking for the convenience, of pubs, restaurants, wine bars and coffee houses. Student accommodations has added for the need to incorporate convenience into the development plans, so that everything a resident needs is on the “doorstep”
Workers are looking to commute less whilst those that own property in city centres are finding property values increasing. There is a ready made market for renting property in city centres, provided all of the above is available.
One of the most important things that has emerged from the pandemic is Mental Health & Well Being and the importance of outdoor space and getting out in nature. However city centre living is more high rise and the possibility of having a garden is rare. The only jungle that you may find in the city is the concrete one therefore, is it now ever more important for town planners to ensure green spaces are incorporated into development plans.
The WWF.UK and the Mental Health Foundation have produced a Thriving with Nature guide for everyone to make use of natural spaces for our Mental Health and Wellbeing. (Source:https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Thriving-With-Nature-compressed.pdf) At the core of any city residential development should be the health & wellbeing of the residents and providing outdoor green space should be the key to Town Centre planners incorporation Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) into their town centre development plans.
The ideal would be, to pedestrianise areas within the town centres, building transport hubs within walking distance. Plant trees and other plants to provide the “park experience,” which will in turn encourage wild life that lives naturally with it.
Cities all over the world are already doing this ,Frankfurt being noted as having one of the most sustainable urban developments and is a role model for other cities to follow (source:https://www.frankfurt-tourismus.de/en/Press/Press-Releases/Press-archives/Green-Frankfurt)
Councils have struggled financially over the past few years due to austerity and the funding streams have been restricted due to the pandemic. Councils will need to think differently and include (ESG) into their planning to encourage private investment. Investors are increasingly looking towards ethical investments and projects that incorporate some of the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDG’s. Source:https://sdgs.un.org/goals). Getting this right could result in longterm investments as the councils gain Kudos.
The benefits to all involved are many. Creating green spaces in town centres makes them desirable, property values will increase which in turn will increase rateable values. Both councils and investors will benefit financially. Residents benefit because work life balance can be achieved through living in a well thought out, city centre development. Where the stresses of everyday working lives can be erased by stepping outside into green spaces to exercise and socialise. The success of future developments will rely on forward thinking councils who consider the future of the residents and who are in it for the long haul. Who adopt Place First Economics – a holistic approach to City Centre living, where everything you need to sustain your work life balance is local, after all isn’t that what we are all aspiring towards?