National Review of Research Priorities for Urban Parks, Designed Landscapes and Opens Spaces

Author(s): Katy Layton-Jones

In the fields of urban planning and landscape design, there are few areas in which Britain has made so significant an international contribution than urban parks and public open spaces. As the world’s first industrialised nation, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Britain, and England in particular, experienced rapid urbanisation and its attendant consequences of air pollution, public health crises and psychological detachment from the natural world. As urbanisation redefined the economic, social and environmental character of industrial Britain, the design and designation of public urban greenspace emerged as important reparation for the privatisation of the landscape and the concretion of townscapes. As access to common land decreased and agricultural hinterlands eroded further from town centres, urban parks and gardens became nature’s urban representative. Today, 80 per cent of Britons live in urban areas and across the country public parks provide an essential and truly inclusive resource, available to all regardless of their economic status, ethnicity, age or gender. With almost 90 per cent of the population using and valuing parks and greenspace, their influence upon our quality of life is incontrovertible (CABESpace, 2010f, 4). In addition, since the triumphs of the public parks movement of the mid-nineteenth century, the recognised function of such landscapes has broadened from the provision of recreation, clean air, and diversion for local residents to incorporate larger national and international environmental agendas.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports
Public Park Building and Landscape Conservation Research Urban Park Designed Landscapes Open Spaces


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