Yardstick Update - Jan '18

With the current housing shortage affecting many of our larger towns and cities, subdivision and development of land is occurring to create new lots, streets and even entire suburbs. As part of this process, parks and green spaces are created to meet the needs of growing communities. But how much open space do those communities need, and where should it be?

The 2017 Yardstick median for total provision of park land is 18 hectares per 1000 residents. However, this includes a lot of forest, wetlands, bush and other open space that is set aside often for environmental purposes or historic reasons, and has a very low intensity of recreational usage. When natural areas are taken out of the equation, the median level of provision drops to around 9 hectares per 1000 residents. These are the actively maintained areas that are managed and used more intensively and are often found in urban areas. Actively maintained parks are where the majority of the organisation’s operational budget for parks maintenance will be spent, and where the most development can generally be found.

Around two thirds of Yardstick members in New Zealand (65%) have a level of service target for the total provision of park land. The remaining 35% have no specific target for total provision. Target areas vary and for many organisations seem to be related to the existing level of provision.

In addition to the total area of park land provided, around 74% of Yardstick members have a level of service target for the location of new parks. This is generally expressed as a maximum distance between homes and parks. Most members are targeting a maximum distance of 500m or 10 to 15 minutes walking time, particularly to neighbourhood parks.

Yardstick parks user surveys carried out in New Zealand in 2017 of over 500 respondents show that of the local respondents that walked to the park where they were surveyed, around 66% had walked less than 10 minutes. A further 23% walked up to 20 minutes to get to the park, but very few walked for more than 20 minutes. This tends to suggest that a target of 10 to 15 minutes walking time would suit the majority of park users.

Yardstick benchmarking and user surveys have many useful metrics to help identify relevant planning targets. We can help you find the answers you need to prepare for growth in your area. Just contact us at https://www.yardstickglobal.org/

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