The community is abuzz with the word that council is possibly preparing to sell off our local parks. Council has tried before to do this, sometimes succeeding when the community was caught unaware.
However, it now appears a serious effort is being mounted to sell off our small suburban parks. These parks may be small but they make a big difference to a local community, bringing greenery and open spaces into our urban environment; providing a space for our children to play instead of on our suburban streets; a place for workers to break out into during lunchtime or coffee breaks.
However, now it appears they will be sold off to developers. turning our suburbs into truly concrete jungles.
Within the past 10 years private amenity space has largely disappeared from the rear of new suburban houses in Australia. This is characterised by an increase in plot coverage from 30-40% to 50-60% or even more. The change appears both permanent and uniform, as it is to be found in all major Australian cities, except Adelaide.
This trend represents a loss that has serious ecological implications. It also
raises important questions about lifestyles changing for the worse, a trend rendered permanent by the changes to the housing stock. Source Tony Hall (2007). Where have all the gardens gone? An investigation into the disappearance of back yards in the newer Australian suburb.
The value of green space to human well-being is well documented.
This report, commissioned by Queensland’s Department of Infrastructure and Planning, has examined how green and open spaces like parks, plazas, recreational trails, boulevards and other such amenities might be better integrated into higher density built environments that are created through urban consolidation. Urban consolidation in Australia, the report has noted, has a poor track record when it comes to the provision of parks and open space. This is partly because municipalities and government agencies have struggled to meet planning standards for park provision. Arguably, such standards do not provide the types of green/open spaces that higher density residents need. By carefully auditing existing green spaces and surveying the needs of residents, for instance using focus groups and survey research as part of a comprehensive needs assessment, we might better provide for parks and open space in higher density built environments.
Incorporating green and open space into higher density built environments makes sense for many reasons. The academic literature points to numerous benefits that green and open space provides – which span economic, social and environmental dimensions. Green and open space can make residents healthier, less stressed, happier and more convivial. Such spaces can reduce many of the costs associated with maintaining urban infrastructure by lessening flooding, suppressing dust, cooling hot areas and reducing wind-speeds and storm damage. Bringing greenspace back into urban areas also bolsters urban habitats, increasing biodiversity and enhancing ecological connectivity. Source: Jason Byrne and Neil Sipe (2010). Green and open space planning for urban consolidation – A review of the literature and best practice.
Open green spaces improve mental health and wellbeing. A natural green environment can provide effective relief from everyday stress, improve concentration, enhance worker productivity, improve self-esteem, boost immunity, and promote healing and recovery after an accident or illness. Natural vistas have been shown to decrease the recovery time for patients in hospital. Exercise in a natural green environment is generally preferred to indoor activity and is more effective in tackling health problems. Moderate exercise helps to prevent heart disease, diabetes, strokes, some cancers (including colon cancer), osteoporosis, depression, anxiety and sleep problems. click here to read more about greenspace values
While many councils value their green spaces it appears our council sees them as nothing more than a commodity that can be sold off to developers. This is nothing more than a short term gain for an obvious long-term reoccurring loss. Our parks with their open spaces and trees are valuable assets worthy of protecting. Many cities realize this.
Concerned? Ask you local councillor if they are going to protect your park or sell it off?