Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dont develop green spaces by covering them in houses, invest in them and create more because its best economics

Really interesting post by Nick Harrison, who amongst many other things is on the steering group of Transition Bristol (, on the Bristol Sustainability Network site, copied below:


Counter to the now (very dated) approach to economic development which demands land be made available for housing and commercial development above all other needs, there is now a burgeoning evidence base that investing more in greenspaces and quality landscape design is a crucial factor influencing inward investment decision-making. See:

The benefits of quality greenspace to the attractiveness of an area has been shown repeatedly to influence crucial investment, productivity and organisational effectiveness issues such as whether businesses can attract and retain the best staff.

If Bristol is to attract and retain the best businesses and employees then investing in good quality urban landscape and greenspace doesn't 'hamper' economic development (as those who stand to make ££ from developing such land would have you believe), far from it, the evidence now suggests that far from being an obstacle, it is an essential pre-requisite for strong, sustainable economic growth.

Mind you ideas like the 'best businesses and employees' and 'sustainable economic growth' deserve some examination, and possibly qualification, to remain consistent with sustainability thinking. And there is an issue with regard to the source(s) of funds to invest in green spaces of course (though to raise funds, as is now planned in Bristol, by flogging green space to invest - only partly - in green space, seems seems bizarre given Nick Harrison's words and of course the ineffective, inefficient spending of Bristol City Council).

Evidence shows then that 'greening up' Bristol, rather than cutting green space, is best economics.


  1. Just for once, I'd like someone to explain just exactly what 'sustainable economic growth' is. I suppose it all comes down to the interpretation of that slippery little word 'sustainable'. If it is supposed to refer to an environmentally benign element, then I'm afraid that the manner in which the phrase is normally used is an oxymoron: economic growth always seems to involve damage to the environment.

  2. I agree Woodsy. There is a problem with any direct equation of economic growth with wellbeing and progress. I've discussed this issues on my blog eg here,

    and also here (following Newsnight raising this issue),


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