Recreation and Community Development

Academic papers and other referenceable material concerning recreation, community building and social capital inrelation to provision of public open space. 

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This content is provided for reference purposes alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of ParklandWA - See full disclaimer.    

TitleAuthor  Year Synopsis/Executive Summary  
Social Capital and the Built Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighborhoods - American Journal of Public Health  Kevin M. Leyden, PhD 2003

Objectives. I sought to examine whether pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods encourage enhanced levels of social and community engagement (i.e., social capital).

Methods. The study investigated the relationship between neighborhood design and individual levels of social capital. Data were obtained from a household survey that measured the social capital of citizens living in neighborhoods that ranged from traditional, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented designs to modern, car-dependent suburban subdivisions in Galway, Ireland.             

Results. The analyses indicate that persons living in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods have higher levels of social capital compared with those living in car-oriented suburbs. Respondents living in walkable neighborhoods were more likely to know their neighbors, participate politically, trust others, and be socially engaged.

Conclusions. Walkable, mixed-use neighborhood designs can encourage the development of social capital. (Am J Public Health. 2003;93:1546–1551)

Building Liveable Communities in the Lower Hunter Region - Hunter New England Population Health  Wells, V., Licata, M., Mackenzie, A., Gillham, K., Hodder, R., & Butterworth, I. 2007 

A resource that can assist the urban planning industry to incorporate health and social outcomes in proposed developments. This resource also acts as a guide for local government and health professionals interested in assessing the health and social outcomes of proposed development.

The guide reports on key findings from the current research and aims to highlight design and planning considerations that can be utilised in existing and future planning processes to help create liveable communities across the Lower Hunter Region. 

ReconomicsLiverpool John Moores University2013 Outdoor Recreation extends further than parks and backyard play. Involves prompts to enter unusual surroundings of nature and into areas that may have a large economic footprint for outdoor activity.
Social Value of Green Space in a Drying Climate - Considerations and opportunities for policy and practiceCurtin University - Centre for Sport and Recreation Research (CSRR)2014 

The study, Social Value of Green Space in a Drying Climate, undertaken by the Centre for Sport and Recreation Research (CSRR), was commissioned in 2013 by the Department of Sport and Recreation WA (DSR) to inform decisions and policy development about the cost to community if water resources are reduced or ceased in public open space (POS).

In a drying climate, many of the benefits associated with POS may be altered by a change in allocation of groundwater for irrigation purposes. The study explores this topic through a review of contemporary literature and relevant research as well as a compiling a range of Local Government case study profiles that include the views of POS users at different sites.

Key messages synthesised from these investigations will contribute a greater understanding of community expectations for green space in a drying climate.

Can the impact on health of a government policy designed to create more liveable neighbourhoods be evaluated? An overview of the RESIDential Environment Project - NSW Public Health Bulletin   

Billie Giles-Corti, Matthew Knuiman, Terri J. Pikora, Kimberly Van Neil, Anna Timperio, Fiona C. L. Bull, Trevor Shilton and Max Bulsara.

University of Western Australia, Deakin University, Loughborough University, National Heart Foundation, WA


There is growing interest in the impact of community design on the health of residents. In 1998, the Western Australian Government began a trial of new subdivision design codes (i.e. Liveable Neighbourhoods Community Design Code) aimed at creating pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods to increase walking, cycling and public transport use.

The trial provided a unique opportunity for a natural experiment to evaluate the impact of a government planning policy on residents. Nevertheless, evaluations of this kind present a number of methodological challenges in obtaining the highest quality evidence possible. This paper describes the RESIDential Environment Project’s study design and discusses how various methodological challenges were overcome.

Teenagers and Public Space - Literature Review.

OPENspace Research Centre, Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot Watt University

Penny Travlou 2003 Over the last twenty years there has been a developing research interest in young people and their relationship with the urban environment. Various researchers from different countries and academic backgrounds as Kevin Lynch (1977), Colin Ward (1977) and Roger Hart (1979) were pioneering in their approach of observing the experiences of young people in the city.  
Uses and Perceptions of the Neighborhood Open Space - University of New OrleansRomain Cheynet 2013 

This research investigates the uses and perceptions of the population of the East Carrollton Area in New Orleans so as to evaluate the possible outcomes of urban design intervention and policy changes.

Using GIS, field notes, structured interviews and a population survey, this research evaluates how much the built environment influences the uses of the neighborhood open space.

Subsequently, it evaluates how the neighborhood open space is perceived as a place as opposed to a transportation infrastructure. Overall, the built environment affects the experience of the residents when they perform leisure activities in the neighborhood open space. Major deterrents to functional use and active transportation are related to social factors and the social environment. The neighborhood open space is largely perceived as an asset by the residents. It can be a valid replacement for urban parks when the population cannot access them. 

A survey of community gardens in upstate New York: Implications for health promotion and community development Donna Armstrong, Health and Place Journal 2000 20 Community garden programs in upstate New York were surveyed to identify characteristics that may be useful to facilitate neighbourhood development and health promotion. These returned results describing access for fresh foods, enjoy nature and health benefits. 
Where are Youth Active? Roles of proximity, active transport, and built environment. American College of Sports Medicine     2008 Research and study into the sources of physical activity of youth, active use of recreational sites and the opportunities for active transportation to access open space areas.    
The Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation.Liverpool John Morres University 2013 This article defined what is outdoor recreation comprehensively. It argues that no matter the recreation is peace or exhilaration, it is the most famous pastime for people over the world. This report pointed out that in 2012, the total amount that visitor spent outdoors were over ?21 billion in England. Moreover, the report claim that by providing certain types of public open space and park lands, the walking tourism has provided more than 245,500 full-time jobs as well as ?2.76 billion profit for English economy. This article strongly argues that huge economic benefits can be generated from tourism by provided appropriate types of parks and open space. 
The Value of Public Open Space for Community Service Provision. Sydney, N.S.WSydney Urban Parks Education and Research Group.2001 This report provided various cases studies as well as their data collection regarding to identify whether the Public Open Space can generate economic benefits.  In this reference, the study group identified the problems that may affect the demand for public open space in the metro area. The study found due to various factors (such as more than one percent continued population growth, the increase demand for outdoor recreation according to aging population, the decreasing of private open space) public open space is one of the essential thing people will be considered when they purchase the houses.  Secondly, the study listed what “avoided costs” can public open space provide: For example, Decreased health care costs, reduce the investment from developing facilities that already provided, and reduce the crime rate and etc. Furthermore, , the study provided 3 case studies in Sydney and Melbourne’s parks to find out what is the economic contribution of public open space. At last they argue that by providing public open space in metropolitan regions can reduce more than 55 percent program costs.
The Economic Benefits and Fiscal Impact of Parks and Open Space in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New YorkThe Trust for Public Land 2010 This report discussed both cost and benefits that Public Open Space can cause in Long Island. Furthermore, this study estimated the total economic benefits that open space and parks in Nassau and Suffolk can generate. Meanwhile, it also discussed the fiscal impacts of the land use by considering property tax revenues as well as expenditures for government services.
This case study analysed a wide range of factors to prove that public open space and park can provide economic benefits in the study area. First of all, the study argue that not only fiscal impact but also increasing property value can reduced the cost of government services. Secondly, recreation and tourism are two of the main drivers to enhance the value of open space economically. Furthermore, environmental improvement such as reduce air pollution and drinkable water protection contributed on reducing the government cost significantly.