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Creating sense of community: The role of public space

Key Message

High quality public space can enhance the sense of community in new neighbourhoods.


Francis, Jacinta et al. (2012). Creating sense of community: The role of public space. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 32(4): 401- 409.


A strong sense of community has been associated with improved wellbeing, increased feelings of safety and security, participation in community affairs and civic responsibility. Although interest in how the broader built environment influences sense of community is gaining momentum, there is a dearth of empirical research examining the association between sense of community and the quality of public space. This study investigates the relationship between four public spaces – Public Open Space (POS), community centres, schools and shops – and sense of community in residents of new housing developments in the Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia. Data was obtained from a cross-sectional survey (n = 911), a POS audit, and Geographical Information Systems, and analysed using linear regression.


The perceived quality of neighbourhood POS and shops was significantly and positively associated with sense of community. This relationship appears to be unaffected by how frequently people use these spaces. High quality public spaces may be important settings for enhancing sense of community within residents of new housing developments.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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