In a new study, Simetrica-Jacobs has estimated the social value that a range of green infrastructure amenities bring to social and affordable housing projects.

This work was commissioned by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), in partnership with the Swinburne Centre for Urban Transitions and the Alliance Social Enterprises to fill a gap in the current understanding of the value that social housing residents in Australia hold for different urban greenspace and transportation amenities. This included a garden or balcony, living near greenspaces of various sizes and having access to more sustainable modes of transport, including active transport options. Results of this research have been incorporated into a new tool (SIGMAH) that assists social housing and affordable housing developers to demonstrate their social value to stakeholders using robust and relevant evidence.

We conducted a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) of more than 1,000 lower-income Australian households to estimate the value of different amenities in the neighbourhood, such as being near parks of different sizes, availability of playgrounds and picnic areas, cycling lanes/walking paths and public transport. The amenities varied between those living in houses and those living in flats. Results were split by capital city, other urban centres, and rest of state.

The study has had significant impact on the growing evidence base around the value of urban greenspaces and transportation. Providing quantifiable evidence of the importance of living near a large park or of having access to active transport, for those living in a capital city.

The results from this work were incorporated into the SIGMAH tool that will help guide green infrastructure decisions in the social housing space. SIGMAH was launched at the National Housing Conference (2023), in Brisbane, Australia. Key stakeholders and representatives (such as Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure SA and Housing Australia) were consulted during the process to ensure that the data-driven results can be used by the government and decision makers use.

This work is timely, given the recent launch of the Valuing Green Infrastructure and Public Spaces framework in New South Wales Australia as well as the Biodiversity Net Gain which became mandatory for new developments in England in November 2023.