There are well known links between health and spending time in green spaces[1], as shown by the increased interest in social prescribing[2]. However, there is evidence that the most deprived communities have least access to green space, that more deprived communities receive greater benefits from green space1, and that not all green spaces have similar impacts, with more biodiverse areas providing greater benefits[3]. Oxfordshire’s Local Nature Partnership wishes to understand the equality of access to green space, in terms of quantity and quality, across the county to help prioritise effort and funding.

Working in collaboration with LCNR health, ecology, and society work packages, the Oxford Martin School’s Agile Initiative and Oxfordshire’s Local Nature Partnership, the project will investigate the distribution and biodiversity characteristics of accessible green space in relation to socio-economic factors in Oxfordshire, a LCNR case study area.

The project has identified neighbourhoods that are relatively deprived according to socio-economic measures and lack access to greenspace on a number metrics (including amount of greenspace, greenspace crowding and private gardens). These neighbourhoods, predominantly in urban areas, are presented as priorities for greenspace funding and effort. Although it is often virtually impossible to create new greenspaces in densely populated urban environments, existing greenspaces can be improved and protected from development, and innovative ways of increasing green infrastructure can be considered, such as greening active travel routes and pocket parks. In approaching such efforts, it is important that local communities are consulted and engaged in decision making, to ensure that local greenspace works for those using it. Recommendations for Oxfordshire greenspace based on the report have been developed with local government officers and NGOs with responsibilities and / or interest in the subject.

[1] Smith et al. 2023. Agile Initiative Research Brief: Embedding nature recovery in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill.
[2] Sandhu et al., 2022. 3Aerts et al., 2018.