Living in the Urban Wildwoods: A Case Study of Birchwood, Warrington New Town, UK

Anna Jorgensen, James Hitchmough, Nigel Dunnett Department of Landscape, Sheffield University

Introduction

Relevance and context of the study

This research investigated urban dwellers’ experience of living in a wood­land setting on a post-industrial site using Birchwood (part of Warrington New Town, UK) as a case study. It is relevant to any agency concerned with landscape planning in the peri-urban area in localities where wood­land is, or could be, the dominant landscape element.

In the UK large scale urban landscape planning had its heyday as part of the New Towns Movement from 1945 to the early 1980’s, when the then Conservative government moved housing provision away from the state into the private sector. Currently the British government is once again dealing with housing provision at a more strategic level by looking to promote house-building in four regional locations or “growth areas” (Of­fice of the Deputy Prime Minister 2003). Yet if woodland is to be consid­ered as one of the principle means of structuring and integrating these new settlements it is essential to find out whether this would meet with public approval. In particular, if people disliked or were afraid of naturalistic woodland in an urban setting, it seems unlikely that it would have the psy­chological, social and health benefits that are beginning to be associated with other forms of urban nature and green space (Rohde and Kendle 1994).

The aim of the study was therefore to evaluate residents’ reaction to Birchwood’s woodland landscape with a view to contributing to the debate about the appropriate form and qualities of urban green structure and green spaces in the context of current plans for urban development and expan­sion.

Kowarik I, Korner S (eds) Wild Urban Woodlands.

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005, pp 95-116