Space to thrive: A rapid evidence review of the benefits of parks and green spaces for people and communities

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Dobson J, Eadson W, Gore T, Harris C

Year of Publication:

The National Lottery Community Fund London, The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Publication Type:


This report summarises a rapid review of evidence on the social benefits of urban parks and green spaces. It has been conducted by researchers from Sheffield Hallam University and The University of Sheffield. It focuses on issues such as health, wellbeing and social integration rather than on the wider environmental and ecological benefits of green spaces.

The evidence is presented within a context of increasing policy interest in the social benefits of parks and green spaces. Following work by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and civil society organisations, there is growing political recognition of the social importance of public parks. This has been recognised in, for example, the Loneliness Strategy announced by the Government in October 2018, and in work by NHS England on creating healthy new towns.

It is based on a review of 495 empirical studies published within the last ten years that have been through a process of academic peer review, supplemented by an additional 31 papers reviewed in order to cover evidence gaps. After sifting for quality and relevance, 385 papers were considered. While that means the research reported here is more likely to be robust and rigorous, providing a solid evidence base for policy and practice, it also means that valuable work that has not undergone a peer review process has not been included.
1. Physical health, mental wellbeing
and life satisfaction are all enhanced through access to and use of parks and green spaces
2. Parks create important opportunities for social integration
3. Parks provide opportunities for community engagement and local residents value the chance to be involved in designing and improving their green spaces
4. Parks and green spaces highlight inequalities in society
5. Parks and green spaces enable people
to connect with nature, which in turn brings benefits in terms of wellbeing
6. There are economic benefits of parks and green spaces.

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Dobson, J., Harris, C., Eadson, W., and Gore, T. (2019). Space to thrive: A rapid evidence review of the benefits of parks and green spaces for people and communities. The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund, London.