VALUE Valuing attractive landscapes in the urban economy


Summary description

AIM: To demonstrate the economic value of green infrastructure at the city/region scale and to show how to target green investments to maximise competitive benefits to communities throughout NWE.  Green infrastructure* is a valuable part of our urban economy. However, as urbanisation increases throughout NWE, public and private greenspaces are being lost to housing and commercial developments. A key challenge is to establish where to target green infrastructure investments at the city/region scale, to deliver the greatest economic benefits. We must also modernise planning systems to ensure that high quality green infrastructure is protected and built-in to the urban fabric. This requires hard evidence demonstrating the value of greenspaces, because politicians listen most to economic arguments.

The long-term impact of this project will be improved territorial cooperation policy across NWE regions, based on hard economic evidence that proves the value of green infrastructure in support of strong and prosperous communities.
*Green infrastructure can be defined as the network of multifunctional open spaces, parks, waterways, trees and woodlands needed to support a high quality of life in and around our towns and cities.

Objectives description

AIM: To demonstrate the economic value of green infrastructure at the city/region scale, showing how to target investments to maximise the competitive benefits to communities. O1. Engage key stakeholders and evaluate transnational practice in the economic planning of green infrastructure: Access knowledge, document new intelligence and assess transnational experiences. Hold transnational workshops to scope out strategic issues and shared solutions. Form local partnerships for private sector contributions. O2. Produce and demonstrate strategic planning models for targeting green investments to maximise economic value: Develop tools for planning green infrastructure investments. Combine novel and existing economic appraisal techniques. Develop pilot optimum scenarios. Produce landscape ‘fly-throughs' and test simulations. Hold transnational workshops. O3. Implement innovations in targeted green infrastructure delivery: Demonstrate maximising returns on green infrastructure investment by economic planning techniques. Deliver shared solutions. Use approaches on greenspaces e.g. removing ‘eyesores', enhancing highly visible sites and improving landscapes on access routes to employment centres. O4. Economic valuation of greenspaces and the competitive benefits of green infrastructure networks: Demonstrate competitive advantages of green infrastructure at the city/region scale, proving the economic case by scientific methods. Work with private sector investors to show how green infrastructure improvements can ‘make places profitable'. Undertake real-time assessment of the value-change impacts. O5. Deliver an ‘Agenda for green infrastructure in the NWE regions' supported by hard evidence and training: Policy development and lobbying. Produce and promote a shared green infrastructure agenda and illustrate it by an inspirational ‘prototype green competitive city'. Promote the implementation of best practice by ‘mainstreaming' and by providing practical training and support.

Activities description

Together, the partners will remove a shared problem: how to value green infrastructure and maximise returns on investments at the city/region scale. Five integrated workpackages will deliver the following key objectives: O1. Engage key stakeholders and evaluate transnational practice in green infrastructure planning and valuation. O2. Produce and demonstrate strategic planning models to target green investments in order to maximise economic value. O3. Implement innovations in green infrastructure investment and delivery. O4. Assess the economic value of individual greenspaces and the competitive advantages of green infrastructure networks. O5. Deliver an ‘EU Agenda for green infrastructure investment in the NWE regions', supported by hard economic evidence and practical training. The project will jointly develop, test and promote solutions showing where to intervene to most increase value and secure private investment, by creating attractive regional landscapes. Value will deliver ways
to predict and assess the results of public investment: in the past — by valuing previous green infrastructure improvements and existing greenspace; in the present — by establishing how to target current interventions to maximise value and private sector confidence; in the future — by proving the economic impacts of regional action and the potential value added by transnational cooperations.

The partners will produce new policy options, shared knowledge and practical demonstration, drawn together as an ‘Agenda for green infrastructure investment in the NWE regions'. This shared strategy will be implemented by the partners, and underpinned by hard evidence including a proven system to value economic benefits. Strategic planning/mapping approaches will be applied in participating regions, with support provided for other NWE regions to use these innovations. The long-term goal will be illustrated as an inspirational prototype ‘competitive green city-region', using replicable approaches.


This project will be the first to deliver and apply economic valuation tools to green infrastructure at the city region scale, capable of handling landscape level value impacts. It will build on earlier innovations addressing the site scale. The project is innovative in three key ways. No previous projects have (1) demonstrated how city/regions can target greenspace investments to locations where they will maximise economic benefits; (2) taken a transnational approach in promoting the competitive benefits of green infrastructure; (3) established a link between the value of city-centre commercial property and its proximity to greenspace.
Interreg IIIB project Creating a Setting for Investment (CSI) showed that at the regional scale, high quality landscapes are key economic drivers. This contrasts markedly with the fine (site) scale at which private developers and land valuers operate. Thus, the private sector is unlikely to fund wider improvements. Regions and cities can therefore play
a vital role by providing attractive greenspaces. But this raises the new problem that VALUE aims to solve: how should regional and local authorities target their resources to the locations where they will achieve the maximum added value and return?
Previous rigorous economic valuations have so far only demonstrated impacts on residential property around parks. Projects on commercial development have only shown 'correlations'. Providing open space in cities involves a trade-off with other uses, and can often be seen simplistically as ‘land-take'. Although it is often argued that high quality designs incorporating greenspaces lead to more valuable office or retail developments, this cannot yet be substantiated. VALUE therefore aims to establish whether city centre commercial properties near greenspaces are more valuable, further developing robust tests used in CSI for peri-urban brownfield redevelopments. This project would thus be the first of its kind to demonstrate cause and effect.

Project specifics

VALUE addresses 3 particular weaknesses identified in the NWE SWOT analysis: greater competitiveness in the global knowledge economy, increasing land use pressure and landscape fragmentation. The link between them is the ‘quality of place' on offer to highly skilled knowledge workers.
The Interreg IIIB project ‘Creating a Setting for Investment' (CSI) provided know-how on the relationships between land values, investment decisions and landscape at the scale of the individual site. It indicated that attractive landscapes are significant economic drivers at the scale of the city/region. However, at the same time, it shows that the private sector will not pay for environmental improvements at the site level. Regions and cities therefore have a vital role to play in providing attractive landscapes and green infrastructure networks, to promote investment by improving quality of life.

This raises the practical problem, where and how should local and regional authorities invest their limited resources to maximise the competitive benefits to communities? And how should they target green infrastructure investments at the city/region scale to maximise value?

Urban greenspaces are being built on because they are currently seen as less valuable than other land uses. However, attractive landscapes can help raise the value of development, and quality open spaces improve social cohesion. So we also need to promote awareness of the value of green infrastructure to rank alongside other key land uses. Sustainable growth and jobs are, rightly, the central concerns of European politics. It is thus vital to prove the economic benefits of attractive green landscapes, and the competitive advantages of cities and regions with well developed green infrastructure networks.

Previous EU projects involvement

The starting point of the project is to capitalise on results, learning and experience achieved by previous projects and other programmes, and to build on our shared successes. Interreg ‘CSI', ‘Compete', ‘Artery', ‘Lifescape' and ‘Waterline Economy' provide the springboard for this new broad transnational team, bringing diverse expertise and know-how on the economic impacts of environmental improvements, and associated competitive benefits.
CSI demonstrated how landscape improvements affect private investment decisions and land values. It shows that well-maintained public spaces are critical to investors, but raises the question of how best to target limited resources at the city/region scale. Interreg IIIC Compete confirms the competitive advantages of city regions with a high quality of life/place, and the value of a thriving public realm.
Artery demonstrated how to deliver regeneration along strategic access corridors (urban rivers and greenways). Lifescape and Waterline Economy (IIIB NSR) made progress in establishing how to value environmental improvements. These techniques will be used and improved here.
VALUE joins together existing and new expertise to tackle emerging problems both quickly and efficiently. The partnership can do this by incorporating lessons from predecessor projects and by forging strong working links with other EU programmes such as Urbact, Interact, and FP7. Furthermore, the partners will endeavour to cement the progress made during this project, by disseminating best practices through the EC Regions for Economic Change programme and by promoting uptake of innovations in other ERDF programmes (e.g. Competitiveness and Employment funding).

Project partners

1. SYFP/SCC: South Yorkshire Forest Partnership / Sheffield City Council [UK]
2. GA: Gemeente Amersfoort [NL]
3. VLM: Vlaamse Landmaatschappij [BE]
4. SU: University of Sheffield [UK]
5. VRS: Verband Region Stuttgart [DE]
6. SPI+: Services Promotion Initiatives en province de Liège [BE]
7. ULG: Université de Liège [BE]
8. ILS NRW: Institut für Landes- und Stadtentwicklungsforschung GmbH (ILS GmbH) [DE]
9. CFNW: Community Forests North West Ltd [UK]


urban greenspace, value, sustainable development


European (EU) {Cooperation status}
Terrestrial {Geographical scope}
Agricultural {Habitat type}
Dry and Sub-humid Lands {Habitat type}
Forest {Habitat type}
Mountain {Habitat type}
Ecosystem Services {Tags}


Name Role Amount


Name Role Start End
Teller, Jacques member 2008-07-01 2012-06-01


Name Role Start End
Architecture, Géologie, Environnement et Constructions member 2008-07-01 2012-06-01

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

© 2012 by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform