Does providing better access to green spaces lead to better health for the local population?

Does providing better access to green spaces lead to better health for the local population?

Does providing better access to green spaces lead to better health for the local population?

The UK government want to encourage healthy and active lifestyles. By providing access to green spaces, the government hopes to get the public out of their homes and visiting their local parks and green spaces. When considering the environmental impact, it is important to implement eco-friendly routes such as public transport or cycle paths, rather than cars of limited capacity. But, with all infrastructure and investment projects, evidence-based decisions are imperative. Thankfully Hannah Regis from the University College London has taken the time to look into this as part of her Masters course.

The full report called “A Comparison of Active Transport Travel Time to Public Greenspaces and Indices of Deprivation Health Decile Rank between LSOAs in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.” Will be available to read at the bottom of this blog post.

As the title suggests, this research focuses around the area of Stevenage, looking at any correlation between access and health indicators. Identified as the most deprived local authority in Hertfordshire, the SBC (Stevenage Borough Council) Local Plan notes that levels of physical inactivity are higher than the national average.

Looking at the map, we can see the darkest sections of the map, that show the most deprived areas of Stevenage in terms of health, are directly adjacent to green spaces, but of course this isn’t enough to draw concrete conclusions until we look at the numbers.

TRACC was utilised as part of the methodology, using Integrated Travel Network (ITN) data for the road and footpaths of Stevenage, TRACC created a fully routable network graph connecting user defined origins and destinations. TRACC’s ‘Origin-Destination’ function (O-D Function) calculated the fastest route between two locations, to determine the which origins could access green spaces within different time ranges. These results are displayed as an isochrone map, indicated the different travel time bands.

From all 52 origins, average journey time to the closest filtered greenspace was less than ten minutes for both walking and cycling with a maximum time (rounded to the nearest minute) of 15 minutes by foot.

Using the calculations and results from TRACC, these journey time contours were created.

 

Comparing these contours and the data exported from TRACC to the health indicator scores, it was concluded in the report that there was no significant difference between access to green spaces and the Indices of Deprivation ranking of the population in the local area. To move forward, it was suggested to divert funding from infrastructure to awareness of access to green spaces.

Here’s what Hannah says about using TRACC during her studies.

“Throughout my course I have focused on transport-related geospatial analysis, which TRACC has allowed me to pursue. The software was really easy to use with the capability to study multiple different scenarios, all without requiring additional complex programming. Being able to export results into multiple formats meant I could analyse my results straight into stats software without any hassle, and the isochrones produced visually clear outputs, praised by my classmates and lecturers alike! Overall, using TRACC has helped me achieve distinction level results academically, and it’s been great to get additional experience on software that I know is used professionally!”

You can view the full report: Download here

Basemap offer free student licenses to allow students to utilise TRACC during their studies and research, to find out more email info@basemap.co.uk .

Keziah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Basemap Ltd. She has almost 2 years experience in the digital realm after graduating from the University of Plymouth with a BA in Illustration and a MA in Publishing.