Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy MPhil


Education, Business & Science



First Advisor

Professor Brett Mitchell

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Maria Northcote

Third Advisor

Professor Anthony Williams


111712 Health Promotion, 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified, 120501 Community Planning, 120508 Urban Design


The way in which residents value and use public open space is relevant to many urban and recreation planners. As rapid population growth occurs in urban areas, public infrastructure often becomes strained. It is fundamental that urban and recreation planners understand the wants and needs of a community in order to provide well-planned public open spaces. The aim of this study was to understand the differences between how residents in high- and low-density areas value and use public open space. This knowledge can be used by urban planners to design public open space to provide a space which positively impacts the health of future communities. This cross-sectional study explored the perceived value and use of public open space in high- and low-density communities in a select area within the Blacktown local government, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Population growth in this area has been rapid and ongoing. High-density housing developments are proposed as a solution to this demand. A questionnaire was developed for the study and then distributed to a purposive sample of 1089 high- and low-density residents, resulting in 159 responses. Residents’ responses to the questionnaire covered the topics of public open space usage and value, as well as self-reported health data. Responses were analysed using descriptive statistical methods and comparative techniques. Results indicated that all respondents valued their local public open space, however public open space was used differently by residents depending on their level of housing density. The results of this research may be utilised by local governments, policymakers and planning agencies who are working in communities where rapid population growth is occurring, to guide the provision of public open space specific to the needs of their communities. Future research could involve the replication of this study within other local government areas to expand the body of knowledge surrounding the differences in public open space value and usage between high- and low-density communities.


Used by permission: the author

© 2019 Lyndall Smedley