Green space influences mental wellbeing

Posted on October 28, 2019 | News

Here in the Lake District we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Even in the bustling towns and villages like Kendal, Ambleside and Windermere, we’re never too far from the calming influence of the lakes, fells and fields that make the region such a special place to be.

But a new study suggests that you don’t necessarily need to live in the heart of the countryside in order to benefit from the wellbeing benefits associated with proximity to green spaces. In fact, researchers from the universities of Warwick, Newcastle and Sheffield have discovered that just living within 300m of a green space has a positive influence on mental wellbeing,

The research team used innovative geospatial techniques to help them accurately map the relationship between green space and specific aspects of mental wellbeing, combining survey responses from more than 25,000 respondents to a UK government population survey. The report also noted a ‘very strong’ connection between the amount of green space around someone’s home and their feelings of life satisfaction, happiness and self-worth.

At Russell Armer, we already prioritise green space on our new developments and always do our best to retain trees and hedges where we can, as well as planting native species in order to increase biodiversity. Government guidelines recommend minimum levels of green space in residential developments, but we’re keen to improve on this, as well as to establish where green space is most valuable.

On one of our most recent developments – Oakfield Park, Kirkby Lonsdale – shows just what can be done to help establish a new-build site as part of the settled landscape.

The site is located on the edge of open countryside and offers some amazing views. In order to create a create a community feel we’ve specified more than a dozen different house styles and have made good use of the site’s contours to sculpt a natural landscape that mimics the existing setting. We’ve included some traditional stone walling and have seeded the margins with meadow flowers, planting native trees and shrubs and incorporating some communal green spaces, as well as private gardens and footpaths.

You’ll see from the attached photo taken at Oakfield Park at the end of summer just how quickly and perfectly a colourful and diverse meadow margin can be established!

Our landscape strategy has been carefully considered to support biodiversity, recreation and landscape character and to encourage the flora and fauna that’s so vital to our ecology. We’ve also invested in extra features to support the natural environment, including ‘hedgehog highways’ to allow these endangered mammals to pass freely between gardens, as well as swift boxes to encourage nesting.

We agree that green spaces ought to be considered a key element of all new housing developments. If this policy positively impacts mental wellness, it has important implications for how we can design more sustainable communities for the future.