The local biodiversity (Town and Country Planning Association and

The Landscape Institute (2013a) describe Green Infrastructure (GI) as “the
network of natural and semi-natural features, green spaces, rivers and lakes
that intersperse and connect villages, towns and cities”. Theses area are known
as GI assets and their roles within their environment are GI functions. Urban
Green Space refers to the Green Infrastructure present within Urban settlement
boundaries that hold socio-cultural value. In short, Urban Green Space is any
land or water body that is accessible to the public.  The functions that GI assets provide can have
benefits environmentally, economically and socially. This is significant within
the urban realm where public parks often act as the primary source of green
space and as such play a vital role in contributing towards providing a better
quality of life for residents of these areas (Tzoulas et al., 2007).

The
implementation of green infrastructure can have a multitude of positive
environmental effects. The adoption of green infrastructure naturally involves
a degree of habitat creation which is particularly important in more urbanised
areas where pockets of green space become isolated by grey infrastructure that
act like barriers. Green infrastructure creates corridors where wildlife can
move, therefore increasing local biodiversity (Town
and Country Planning Association and The Wildlife Trusts, 2012). As well as benefitting
biodiversity, well designed green infrastructure can reduce atmospheric and
land pollutants whilst mitigated the urban heat island effect and providing
flood defences as a source control through the implementation of SuDS
(Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) (Landscape Institute, 2013a)

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Good quality green infrastructure can be used as a key tool in the
revitalisation of communities from an economical view point. A high quality
public realm environment can significantly increase the economy in urban areas
and as a result should be an essential element of any regeneration project (CABE Space, 2004). This is
further enforced by the Landscape Institute (2011b) who state that businesses and communities can
reap economic benefits when landscape and green infrastructure is placed at the
heart of the development process. Urban parks and green spaces often act as the
primary resource in providing leisure, recreational and sport activities within
urban areas which presents an attractive setting for potential businesses and
urban development (Bullock,
2008). In short, good quality green infrastructure can; increase the
value of both residential and commercial properties which can increase tax
yields for local authorities (reference);
create vibrant communities which are more attractive for business to invest in
and provide employment (Chiesura,
2004); attract tourism to an area and give local residents a sense of
ownership within their community, which can promote better social well-being leading
to increased work productivity (CABE Space, 2005).

With regards to society benefits, urban parks and green
space have a vital role to play within an urban environment. Well designed and
managed green spaces encourages outdoor activity that has a direct impact upon
reducing obesity (Mitchell,
2013), provides relaxing and peaceful areas that can substantially
improve physical and mental health (Kaplan, 1983) and reduce the stress that can be caused by busy
urban living (Ward Thompson et
al., 2012). Urban parks also present a forum for social cohesion and
integration by providing an area where people of all backgrounds can interact
freely whilst reducing criminal and anti-social behaviour which is less
prevalent in well populated parks (Coley et al., 1997).

The principle advantage of green infrastructure is its
ability to provide multiple benefits at once. For example; The Landscape
Institute (3013a) state
that the simple addition of trees to an urban setting not only improves the
aesthetics of the location but also aids in reducing airborne pollution,
providing shade, reducing urban heat island effects, reduce noise and improve
biodiversity. However, not all the benefits derived from green space are as
easily accessible, primarily because whilst some benefits have an instant
impact upon the surrounding area, other benefits require engagement in order to
be obtained. There are two main classification regarding green space and urban
park benefits; Off-site benefits and On-site benefits (More et al., 1988). Off-site benefits are those
that can be attributed to improving the local area without the local community
necessarily engaging with the specific site; These benefits are predominantly
those concerning the environment and economy. On-site benefits are those that
require people to actively use the green spaces in order to reap them; These
benefits are those associated with society, health and well-being (Latinopoulos et al., 2016).

Studies conducted within the United Kingdom have shown that
those people who live in more deprived areas are likely to have access to fewer
good quality green spaces and parks than those who live in more affluent areas.
National government policy is becoming ever more focused on addressing
inequalities in health associated between deprived and affluent areas with the
main solution being to prevent health issues by encouraging healthy and active
lifestyles (Landscape
Institute, 2012). In order to achieve this green spaces, particularly
urban parks, need to be accessible to all people. Therefore, it is important to
understand the perceived barriers to accessibility of urban parks in order to
achieve this goal.