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Capturing the value of green space in urban parks in a sustainable urban planning and design context: pros and cons of hedonic pricing

Engström, G., and Å. Gren (2017). Ecology and Society 22(2):21.

Abstract:

Sixty percent of the land that will be urban in 2030 has yet to be built. Contemporary urban development is unsustainable and focus is on building dense, often at the expense of urban green space (UGS), at the same time as our understanding of links between green spaces and human well-being, especially health, is increasing. There is a need to better understand and analyze human well-being qualities of UGS in a planning context. Our aim is to increase this understanding by analyzing the pros and cons of hedonic pricing in this context. Hedonic pricing is commonly used for analyzing benefits associated with UGS to make them more visible and to provide support for urban planning. However, the validity of this approach has been questioned. To increase the accuracy of a hedonic pricing method we incorporate state-of-the-art methods to assess the value of public parks in a case study. Although our results suggest that urban parks indeed have a positive effect on property value and that this effect tends to increase with reduced distance to the parks, the hedonic pricing information is not enough to make well-advised decisions in a sustainable planning context. We thus suggest (1) including and quantifying additional health benefit dimensions and (2) replacing straight-line measures with an axial line step distance measure, to better capture accessibility. To better capture the range of benefits generated by urban parks, irrespective of whether these benefits are enjoyed in direct relation to the park or not, we suggest complementing hedonic pricing via (3) applying an ecosystem service lens, thus also improving the accuracy of trade-off and synergy analysis Also, a sustainable planning approach will benefit from (4) taking the surrounding land use configuration into account for optimizing the different values of urban parks.

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Keywords: health benefits from urban parks; hedonic pricing; sustainable urban planning; urban ecosystem services, urban green space; valuing urban parks

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