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Residents parks and open spaces

We asked residents what they think about their local parks and open spaces

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Future Parks have been working alongside project partners Futurebright Solutions to explore aspirations of green space provision among residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Through desk-based research, focus groups with local communities, a survey, and engagement with Community Connectors, housing boards, the LNP Developing with Nature Forum and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Community Resilience Group; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Future Parks investigated how residents in new communities use and value their local parks and green open spaces which were created as part of the development that they live in. We asked the residents from three new communities what they thought of their local parks and open spaces, these included: Hampton Vale in Peterborough, Northstowe in South Cambridgeshire; Trumptington Meandows and the Southern Fridge in Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire. Follow this link to access the full report.

Here are the highlights of some of our findings:

Residents enjoyed a wide range of activities in their parks and open spaces. The most popular activities were exercising, relaxing, spending time with children and families, socialising and spending time with friends, and spending time in nature. Few residents said they currently volunteer in their local park or open space (10%). However, 37% said they were interested in joining a local volunteer group, and 17% said they would be interested in setting up a volunteer group.

What do you do in your local park and green space

Overwhelmingly, the reasons some people didn’t visit their local parks and open spaces was because ‘there is nothing there for me’ (24%). So we asked residents what they thought the most important features a local community park or green open space should have.

Spaces that were well-maintained – i.e. clean, tidy and safe – were high on peoples agenda and was a recurring feature residents said was important. When asked about their current use of parks and open spaces, only 6% of people said they don’t visit their local parks or green spaces because they were poorly maintained, and only 4% said they don’t feel safe in their local parks or open spaces. This suggests that, for the communities sampled, parks and open spaces are generally perceived as safe, pleasant spaces to be. However, maintaining parks and open spaces to a high quality and ensuring they are safe spaces for communities to enjoy is high on peoples agenda and should be treated as such.

Some of the most common responses highlighted that the most important feature for a local community park or open spaces is that these spaces are inclusive and accessible spaces that cater to the needs of the community.  Some people responded that parks and green open spaces must be accessible for people with different mobility needs. Including paths that were well-maintained and plenty of spaces for people with limited mobility to sit.

Many people also said that parks and open spaces must be accessible for the whole community, and that these spaces should offer a diverse range of services for all ages, abilities and interests. For example, play facilities that cater to children as they develop through adolescence, and facilities for adults and teenagers – such as social spaces, cafes in places where parents and carers can keep an eye on younger children, nice walks, and quieter spaces where people can enjoy a little solitude and peace.

Another feature that came across strongly from residents was for parks and open spaces to be more spacious. References to ‘space,’ ‘enough space,’ ‘open space,’  and for parks to be ‘bigger’ were common.


Residents important features parks and community open spaces should have

The breadth of suggestions for spaces that are both accessible, inclusive, and inviting for members of the community came across strongly from respondents. There is clearly more to be done to provide multi-functional spaces that offer something for everyone. Our findings are testament to the diverse potential of parks and open spaces to serve local communities.

Finally, residents recognised that their parks and open spaces must not only serve them, but also provide services to nature. The importance of nature and wildlife came through strongly in the survey and as part of wider focus groups discussions. Any many residents highlighted that the preservation and enhancement of nature in parks and open spaces where an important feature to them.