Workers and residents in Victoria say that having more green infrastructure (GI) in the area makes them feel happier and increases their sense of wellbeing. There is also a strong feeling among businesses that GI is good for business in terms of sales, staff wellbeing and the image of Victoria.
These are the key findings of a new report from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) that looks at the Victoria BID’s greening work in the area. The study was carried out over the last two years by the London Metropolitan University and the University of York.
Read the report here.
The aim of the project was to investigate what impact green infrastructure improvements have had, or will have, for businesses, workers, visitors and residents. Business interviews were conducted with Victoria BID levy payers and SMEs to capture views on the Victoria BID’s Clean and Green programme and the perceived impact of GI on customer footfall and sales, staff recruitment and retention, staff wellbeing and business image.
The workers wellbeing surveys carried out in 2012 and 2014 showed an appreciation of the local green environment, and more so in 2014 following efforts by the BID to install more green space. The 2014 findings show 86% of workers feel having green spaces in and around workplace makes them feel happier and 72% visit green space near their offices. The researchers noted ‘stronger’ feeling in 2014 that GI is good for business, pointing to the impact GI has on turnover.
Sue Bagwell Research Development Manager at the Cities Institute, London Metropolitan University commented: “The most important aspect to come out our research is that it shows that businesses, employers, employees and local residents are now appreciating green infrastructure far more than they did with the first wave of our research in 2012.
Businesses recognise that GI is good for the image of business, good for staff, and good for business competitiveness. An attractive green environment attracts new customers to stay longer and shop more and contributes to the value of property. For employees and local residents it provides aesthetic, psychological contributions to wellbeing that spill over into a wider awareness of the environment.”
Ruth Duston, Chief Executive Victoria BID said: “What we take from this research is the recommendation that to maximise the benefits of GI it needs to be part of a wider strategy for developing the public realm. By bringing key stakeholders together to address related issues such as crime, safety and street cleaning, all of which need to be tackled to maximise the use of open space, the Victoria BID enables a joined-up approach to the development of the public realm.”
The research also revealed people’s views on green space generally: “It’s tiring living in the city and green spaces are part of the coping strategy” and “Psychologically it makes you feel happier”. On specific schemes such as the Rubens at the Palace Hotel living wall: “If you don’t have time to go to the park – the park can come to you”. Comments such as this are valuable and suggest that despite being situated close to some of London’s best Royal Parks, people don’t always have time to visit them pointing to the value of high quality green space next to where people work and live.
The lack of green space at Victoria Station was also mentioned: “The entrance to the station should be greener and more pleasant to make commuters more mellow and so they are happier going to work”. The Victoria Station Upgrade project will end in 2018 and we are working with Transport for London on their plans for upgrading Terminus Place so that it becomes a space that befits one of London’s premier business districts and reflects the level of investment that is being made in the area.
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