Access to Greenspace

Providing accessible greenspace close to people’s homes is an important part of creating liveable places and promoting healthy lifestyles. This infographic illustrates the percentage of people living in 72 urban areas across the UK that have to walk more than 10 minutes to reach their nearest greenspace. It is estimated that 2.6 million people in the UK fall into that category.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

access to greenspace infographic

Walk to greenspace

Creating and maintaining networks of publicly accessible greenspaces is an essential component of successful urban places. Understanding the proximity and accessibility of greenspace across an urban area is an important indicator of the quality of life that is experienced by the people who live there.

In this infographic, the data relates to greenspaces that are publicly accessible and mainly used for recreation, such as public parks and playing fields. Research by the European Commission analysed accessible greenspace and population spatial data in urban areas to measure the time taken to walk to a public greenspace from people’s homes. An 800-metre distance was used as a proxy for a 10-minute walk.

The infographic shows that the percentage of people who have to walk more than 10 minutes to a greenspace varies across the 72 different UK towns and cities, from below 1% to 37%. The research study did not find any relationship between the size of an urban area, population density and the proximity to greenspace.

While the research data used in the infographic relates to a 10-minute walk to greenspace, a typical but more challenging approach is to use a 5-minute walk threshold (usually set at a 400-metre distance). Many studies have shown that a 5-minute walk represents the distance that people are prepared to regularly walk to a local or neighbourhood greenspace. It is likely that the number of people that live more than a 5-minute walk from greenspace will be significantly higher. Using this shorter time threshold as a standard for provision is more challenging to deliver. However, as people are more likely to use local spaces within a 5-minute walk, it would be a better indicator of access and use.

Quality and distribution of greenspace

While having greenspace close to where people live is important, it is only one of a number of factors that should be taken into account when assessing provision. The quality of the space, the facilities and ease of access are also important factors in determining whether greenspace is used and valued by people. Spaces that are neglected, have little interest or are separated from residential areas by barriers like busy roads are less desirable to visit.

In addition, having a number of different greenspaces nearby provides choice and the potential for different experiences. Creating and maintaining a good quality network of greenspaces that are distributed across urban areas should be at the heart of the places where we live.


European Commission (2018). A Walk to the Park?

Fields in Trust (2019). Green Space Index.

Leslie, E., Sugiyama, T., Ierodiaconou, D. & Kremer, P. (2010). Perceived and objectively measured greenness of neighbourhoods: are they measuring the same thing? Landscape and Urban Planning, 95 (1-2), pp.28-33.

Ward Thompson, C. (2002). Urban open space in the 21st century. Landscape and Urban Planning, 60 (2), pp.59-72.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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