Accessible green space

Exploring the equitable distribution of accessible greenspaces in Oxfordshire, resulting in recommendations for policy makers and practitioners.

Photo of a boy looking out at fields and water course


There are well known links between health and spending time in green spaces, as shown by the increased interest in social prescribing. However, there is evidence that the most deprived communities have least access to green space, that more deprived communities receive greater benefits from green space, and that not all green spaces have similar impacts, with more biodiverse areas providing greater benefits.

What we're doing

Our Health and Nature group wanted to understand the equity of access to green space, in terms of quality as well as quantity and distribution across the county, to help prioritise effort and funding. The Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery, part of Oxford University, has funded a research project to explore this.

The project builds on existing work (notably TVERC's 2017 Accessible Natural Green Space Standards (ANGSt) mapping, green infrastructure strategies developed by the Local Planning Authorities, and Natural England's Green Infrastructure Mapping) to develop a baseline, map opportunities, and recommend policy and practical interventions. The Nature policy group will then incorporate these outputs into existing evidence and planning, bringing forward projects to deliver the recommended interventions and thus improve equity of access to greenspace across Oxfordshire.

Project outputs

Report: Oxfordshire’s greenspace-deprived neighbourhoods

Coordinating author: Martha Crockatt

Contributors: Matt Whitney (Oxfordshire Local Nature Partnership), Alison Smith (University of Oxford), Rosie Rowe (Oxfordshire County Council), Mark Hirons (University of Oxford),  Constance McDermott (University of Oxford), Camilla Burrow (Wild Oxfordshire) and Joseph Gent (University of Oxford).

The project has identified neighbourhoods that are relatively deprived according to socio-economic measures and lack access to greenspace on a number metrics (including amount of greenspace, greenspace crowding and private gardens). These neighbourhoods, predominantly in urban areas, are presented as priorities for greenspace funding and effort. Although it is often virtually impossible to create new greenspaces in densely populated urban environments, existing greenspaces can be improved and protected from development, and innovative ways of increasing green infrastructure can be considered, such as greening active travel routes and pocket parks. In approaching such efforts, it is important that local communities are consulted and engaged in decision making, to ensure that local greenspace works for those using it. Recommendations for Oxfordshire greenspace based on the report have been developed with local government officers and NGOs with responsibilities and / or interest in the subject.

Read the report 'Equitable distribution of nature-rich accessible green space: An Oxfordshire case study'

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