Less Is More for Urban Parks; ARCHITECTURE & URBAN DESIGN

The Birmingham Post (England), August 16, 2018 | Go to article overview

Less Is More for Urban Parks; ARCHITECTURE & URBAN DESIGN


Byline: Joe Holyoak

THE Birmingham Post recently reported on a petition, directed at the City Council and the metropolitan mayor Andy Street, which demands a large new city centre park.

The petition is organised by CityPark4Brum, and it specifically targets the proposed Smithfield development which will replace the now-vacant Wholesale Markets.

The masterplan for the Smithfield development, which the city council published in 2016, contains new markets, offices, shops, a hotel and cultural buildings, with about 40 per cent of the site to be covered by new housing. Within this residential zone are proposed three small neighbourhood parks.

CityPark4Brum proposes instead that the whole 14 hectares (33 acres) of the Smithfield site should become one large park.

I am an enthusiast for urban parks, and in agreement with CityPark4Brum on the social, economic and health benefits which they bring. I also agree that, while the city's suburbs are well provided with parks, the city centre is underprovided, and that there should be more of them.

However, I consider that this petition is misguided, and very unlikely to achieve its object.

For a start, the Smithfield park proposal is economically unviable.

Public space costs money to make, and it does not earn any money. Its construction, and its lifetime maintenance, have to be paid for by the development of adjacent buildings, whose economic value will be increased by being next to an attractive public space.

London's 18th century West End squares continue to be a good model for this (although mostly gated and private).

Nobody, either in the public or the private sector, is going to pay for the whole of the Smithfield site to be made into a park. The only way that new public space is going to be made out of the disaster that was the 1970s Wholesale Markets is for parks to be integrated into profitable new built development, as the 2016 masterplan proposes (although it can be argued that it does not propose enough).

When I wrote about the Smithfield masterplan in this column in 2016, I mentioned the objection made at Planning Committee by Councillor James McKay that the park space proposed was too small. He suggested something more like New York's Central Park. The entire Smithfield site is 14 hectares in size. Central Park is 341 hectares.

That was just plain silly, but it illustrated the sad tendency in Birmingham to equate bigness with quality.

The CityPark4 Brum petition shares this misguided belief. The word "large" recurs through the document, as though being large is by itself a guarantee of quality.

In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case. Instead of campaigning unrealistically for a 14-hectare park, it would be much more sensible for CityPark4Brum to campaign for 14 one-hectare parks, distributed throughout Highgate, Digbeth and Deritend.

Each of them could be the social centre for a small neighbourhood, and they could generate a useful and attractive variety of types of space, offering many different facilities between them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Less Is More for Urban Parks; ARCHITECTURE & URBAN DESIGN
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.