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AU: Putting a price on green space in urban development

How do you quantify all the benefits of green space when planning a development site, to offset against the cost of buying and maintaining the plants?

A new project co-funded by a developer, CSIRO, Hort Innovation and funds from the nursery levy, aims to find out what information on existing green space and processes for urban development and renewal is available and where gaps may exist. More broadly, it is being funded under the Hort Frontiers Green Cities Fund.

Ultimately, the goal is to understand the flow of information between those proposing a development and those making the decisions, and what information they need to account for the benefits as well as the costs.

This is particularly important where developers are creating a masterplan that includes parks that could be handed over to the local council once completed, becoming an additional responsibility to maintain.

Developing cost benefit analysis tools and business case methodology to promote the case for urban green space (GC15000) is being carried out by the CSIRO, working with a developer on a real life development project to ground-truth the findings.

The first step is a literature review to find out what is already known, here and overseas, when it comes to putting a dollar value on everything from recreational benefits of green space to water sensitive urban design.

A review will also be carried out of the existing tools and metrics available to carry out a cost benefit analysis, and any gaps and shortcomings. This will also consider how multiple benefits have been or could be combined, as often tools will look at one just aspect of green space.

The CSIRO team will also get involved from the ground up with a large greenfield residential development in western Sydney that will include parks, recreation areas and water sensitive design.

Working with a developer and the local council, will help to ensure researchers have a strong and practical understanding of the information required and available on both sides, and input about how user-friendly existing tools may be.

Part of the solution may be raising awareness of the tools and metrics already exist, packaging them up so that developers and councils can make better use of them when preparing and assessing project plans.

There may also be recommendations to revise existing tools or develop new ones, to ensure there is an effective business case methodology and supporting national cost benefit tool available to promote urban green space.

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