World first research provides proof that green-spaces should be vital part of planning decisions
July 11, 2008
Over 40 planning and regeneration experts gathered at the Design Museum on the banks of the Thames to digest European research that has informed this latest stage of the Creating a Setting for Investment project.
Economic Landscapes aims to address the fact that whilst development strategies have for some time recognised a link between high quality environments and successful, prosperous regional economies, there has been little evidence-base to support this connection. This has meant that it has been difficult to embed strategies for creating attractive settings to enable investment into policy and practice.
The €10m project has been delivered by partners across Europe, including the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, Sheffield City Council and the University of Sheffield in the UK. It is funded by the Interreg IIIB North West Europe programme; Yorkshire Forward; the UK Department for Communities and Local Government; the Walloon Region of Belgium; Montan-Grundstucksgesellschaft mbh; and the Institut fur Landes-und Stadtentwicklungsforschung.
Using ground-breaking research and test sites across Europe, the Creating a Setting for Investment project has, over a five year period, explored the links between landscape quality, the location decisions of investors and occupiers, and the value of land at commercial property development locations.
The evidence within the report proves what has for some time been theorized – that investment decisions, which have a significant impact on an area’s economy, are influenced by landscape quality. The report specifically found that:
- Landscape quality is a primary influence on peoples’ perceptions of particular regions – and the decision this helps them make on quality of life can effectively attract and keep the skilled employees vital to ensuring companies invest in an area
- Areas with higher landscape quality are perceived as more affluent, safer and more welcoming to staff and visitors
- High landscape quality can give one site the advantage over comparable alternatives where other location factors such as land prices, parking, transport links etc are equal
- Landscape improvements can help break negative cycles of neglect, poor landscape quality and anti-social behaviour
- Many business/ individuals will pay a higher than average rent for premises located in an area of high landscape quality and others would expect to pay less for premises in a low quality setting
On the back of the evidence within the report, a series of recommendations are made by the project in a bid to ensure that the research findings can be used by development agencies, regional policy makers, environment agencies and others involved in planning and implementing landscape enhancement programmes. The recommendations include:
- To maximise the competitiveness of cities and regions, agencies at every level should develop and deliver regional or area-based strategies for landscape quality enhancement
- To maximise occupancy levels, developers should invest in higher quality landscape development of sites and their immediate settings
- Planners should work with developers to agree flexible design guidelines to ensure that new developments contribute to the local area and regional image and maximise economic competitiveness
- Property developers should consider enhanced investment in site landscape quality to maximise the immediate opportunity for improving rental incomes and longer term opportunity to increase land value
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward said: “This is an incredibly valuable piece of work. For the first time we have a body of information from which we can learn, and a comprehensive study on how to manage and improve the quality of our landscape to maximize an area’s economic viability. By doing so, we will also look after our previous environmental resources and improve quality of life for local communities.
“Whether as a policy maker, regeneration professional, practitioner, planner or investor, we need to look closely and respond to findings of this important project.”