Area-Level Disparities of Public Open Space: A Geographic Information Systems Analysis in Metropolitan Melbourne

Suzanne Mavoa*, Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Hannah M. Badland, Melanie Davern, Xiaoqi Feng, Thomas Astell-Burt, Billie Giles-Corti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines differences in proximity to, and size of, four types of public open space for different levels of socio-economic disadvantage in metropolitan Melbourne. Since the provision of public open space in Melbourne is guided by the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP), this article also demonstrates the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a tool to compare the current distribution of public open space with policy. Measures of distance to, and size of, the closest public open space were derived using GIS and analysed according to area-level socio-economic disadvantage. A novel method of estimating public open space access points is introduced. Over one-third of dwellings in metropolitan Melbourne were located in areas that did not align with the VPP public open space proximity standard; however, we found no evidence of a socio-economic gradient in terms of compliance. There were statistically significant differences between disadvantaged and advantaged areas with respect to proximity to, and size of, public open space. However, while the differences were statistically significant the magnitudes of the differences were small. Future research needs to investigate how different measures (e.g. quality, size) can be included in planning regulations to support equitable provision of public open space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-323
Number of pages18
JournalUrban Policy and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 3
Externally publishedYes


  • Melbourne
  • Public open space
  • accessibility
  • equity
  • geographic information systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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