When you lead a nation in green space, what opportunities do you possess? How do those opprotunities impact small and emerging businesses, and the surrounding communities? At what point do you convert underutilized green space into a sprawling piece of revenue-producing land? In the United Kingdom, Nottingham currently boasts the Kingdom’s top green space ranking. However, its lack of vision to make parks more attractive could be hurting the city financially in the long term.
Nottingham Forest Recreation Ground (NFRG) is one of Nottinghamshire’s more prolific parks. During the year it hosts the city’s longtime tradition Goose Fair. Late 2007 Nottinghamshire received funding to restore NFRG for greater use for patrons and tourists. However, the vision for this restoration lacks imagination and modern-day uses for parks. What it lacks in vibrancy, it makes up in size - but what you do with that space matters all the more.
In a 2008 report for the Downtown Minneapolis Park Space Initiative, urban planners noted what successful elements downtown parks featured. The report specified these following features as being focal points for a successful and thriving park:
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The report also highlights the costs of creating a downtown park at $500,000 or roughly £333,333. This comes at an advantage as Nottingham Forest Park recently received £5.1 in funding. So with this information, what could be in store for this unadorned park?
Five Visions for the Nottingham Forest Recreation Ground
One thing urban planners can do is focus on what they already have and build on those advantages, more specifically, space.
- Music Concert Series - In terms of entertainment, this would be highly beneficial by bringing in a consistent and annually increasing revenue. More and more cities across the world are opening their parks for music festivals. South By Southwest Music Conference, held in Austin, Texas, brought in over $190 million in 2012. Not only does it bring in revenue, but it also puts residents to work;
- Screen on the Green - Many cities like Atlanta host film showings for residents to watch, while offering the opportunity for local businesses to be vendors at the event;
- Outdoor Gym - A highly popular initiative seen in Beijing, an outdoor gym could help Nottingham promote a healthier community, especially to those who may not be able to afford gym fees;
- Outdoor Ice Rink - As noted by the initiative, winter programs are highly popular. An ice rink would keep people interested during this season, especially since Nottingham commonly sees such a long winter season;
- Coffee/Tea Shops (wifi, statues, etc.) - Living up to the British culture and standards is always a must. With such useful and expected amenities, park users will have a glut of reasons to go to the park and sunbathing in all that it offers.
With so many ideas for Nottingham’s parks, landscape design becomes a focal point for its long-lasting economic future. Using the diagram above, how would you create the ultimate park in your city?
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.