Our study shows that urban green and blue space interventions make an important contribution to the economy in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We discuss the multifunctional benefits of green spaces and how these translate into a positive return on investment

For the attention of: Policymakers interested in environmental health and sustainable urbanisation; academics and researchers; urban planners and designers.

The problem: The Connswater Community Greenway was a major urban regeneration project in Belfast, Northern Ireland that involved the provision of urban greenway, a new civic square, improved foot and cycle paths, as well as flood alleviation measures. However, there are few studies that have attempted to measure the economic value of urban green and blue space interventions. Therefore, little is known about how the social, economic, and environmental benefits of these spaces translate into monetary gains for the economy.

What we did and why: We conducted an economic evaluation of the Connswater Community Greenway. The aim was to examine the contribution of the Greenway to: property values; flood alleviation; tourism; biodiversity; climate change; health and wellbeing; crime; and employment/productivity. By comparing these benefits against the total costs of the project, we demonstrate how the Greenway is a good investment for the local economy.

What our study adds: We explore the societal impact of the CCG and discuss the scope for further research in the area of economic evaluations of UGBS.

Overall, the results showed that the Greenway will provide a positive return on investment over its 40-year projected lifetime. The present study supports the use of economic evaluations in identifying the value of urban green and blue spaces, and the contribution they make to the economy.

Implications for city policy and practice: Policymakers and urban planners should consider urban green and blue spaces as a resource that promotes economic benefits for the economy as well as social and environmental benefits.

For further information: 

Groundswell Consortium information: regarding the research team

Connswater Community Greenway information: about the Connswater Community Greenway and the various community engagement initiatives that are ongoing

Full research article: The social return on investment of an urban regeneration project using real-world data: the Connswater Community Greenway, Belfast, UK by Christopher Tate, Ciaran O’Neill, Ngan Tran, Leonie Heron, Frank Kee, Mark A. Tully, Mary Dallat & Ruth F. Hunter.