Preference and relative importance for environmental attributes of neighbourhood open space in older people
Having a neighbourhood open space that is attractive and easy to visit can benefit older people’s well-being. However, to date little research has explored the comparative importance of different attributes of local open space for older adults. This study drew on a sample of people from across Britain, aged from 60 to 97 years, to address this gap. It used choice-based conjoint analysis of environmental attributes relevant to older people’s park preferences to demonstrate the comparative importance of nuisances such as signs of vandalism or dog fouling, and deterrents such as heavy traffic en route to an open space, as well as the importance of attractors such as cafes and toilets, trees and plants, things to watch, and good maintenance. The results published here provide the basis for scenario modelling to predict the effects of changes to any attribute in terms of overall preference. Key subgroups in the sample were identified, their responses differing significantly according to whether or not they lived alone or had any mobility impairment. The value of the research lies in demonstrating the effectiveness of the methods: scenario modelling can take these different subgroups’ preferences into account and such analysis can be of considerable practical value to open-space planners and designers.
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