Social spaces

The social value of open space lies in the opportunities it provides for social interaction, social mixing and social inclusion. It can help facilitate the development of community ties and neighbourhood interaction. A public space provides an arena for the exchange of ideas, friendships, goods and skills. Public space is especially important for young children as it gives them the opportunity to make friends and learn some of the rules of communal life and play.

Case Study: Beardmore Park

Multifunctional space

Communities within the East End of Glasgow identified Beardmore Park site as one of the most prominent local eyesores in the City Council’s ‘2001 East End Eyesores’ report.  Further to this the need to transform vacant and derelict land into open space was highlighted in the East End Social Inclusion Partnership’s ‘Towards a Development Strategy’.

The transformation of the derelict land into a vibrant, multi functional play and open space area is major achievement. The park now contains play areas for all age groups, events space and garden spaces for rest and relaxation.

As the project has developed over time the local community has become instrumental in advocating for changes to the layout within the park. This has included an additional self-closing gate to the toddlers play area to protect planted areas, additional barrier protection and the introduction of football equipment.

There is continued partnership working between community and the City Council. The project emphasises the value of community ownership and there is growing confidence amongst the community that they have a pivotal role in sustaining the park. It also highlights the value of the commitment of the local authority in taking the views of the community on board and where possible acting upon them.

Greenspace Scotland 2009 Public Attitudes Survey

A report published in July 2009 reveals that nearly two-thirds (63%) of Scots use their local greenspaces for recreation and exercise each week, and that people think urban green spaces across Scotland are getting better.

The report, based on a survey commissioned by Greenspace Scotland, also shows that most people think open space is very important to their local area, and believe that they should act as places for play, physical activity, relaxation and seeing nature. However, in common with previous Greenspace Scotland surveys, the findings show a continuing gap between expectations about open space and the reality of local spaces. When asked about what would increase their use of space, many people reported problems with maintenance or lack of facilities.

Amongst the key findings:

  • More regular use of greenspace – 63% of people now use their greenspaces at least once a week, compared with only 49% in 2005
  • Green spaces are important to communities, and are meeting local needs – 86% think that it is very important to have greenspaces in their local area, and 83% say that their local greenspace meets their needs
  • Green spaces are contributing to health improvement – the survey shows that local greenspaces are strongly rated as places for relaxing and unwinding (63%), physical activity (60%) and play (59%)
  • Local greenspaces are functioning as vital community spaces – 57% of respondents strongly agreed that their green spaces were attractive and made the area a great place to live, while 52% rated their local green spaces as good places to meet other people from the community
  • People continue to have high expectations about what greenspace can offer in terms of physical activity, relaxation, play, socialising and viewing nature, but the reality of their local spaces still falls short of these expectations. As in previous surveys, this difference is particularly pronounced in more deprived areas
  • When asked what would make them use their local greenspace more often, suggestions included simple issues around better maintenance and a reduction in dog fouling, or additional facilities such as seating.