The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 4 Public open space POS

Park belts as greenways

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The history of park belts 

Park belts are rings of recreational open space located on the fringe of urban areas. One of the world's first park belts was planned for the city of Adelaide in Australia . William Light selected the site for Adelaide after a coastal voyage. Before going to Australia he had sailed round the Mediterranean and published a book of 'picturesque' views. Adelaide's site was chosen 'because it was on a beautiful and gently rising ground, and formed altogether a better connection with the river than any other place' (Light 1911). Light prepared a plan for Adelaide in 1837. It shows two clusters of urban development, on either side of the River Torre, surrounded by a belt of parkland. The urban area was planned on a grid but contained six urban squares. Light proposed that any future urban growth should be outside the park belt. Light's plan was adopted though some encroachments on the park belt have since taken place [Fig 4.23]. An anonymous book called The Friend of Australia, published in 1830, has been identified as the source of Light's plan. In a section 'On the laying out of towns' the author praises the handsome architecture of London's Regent Street and recommends that 'all the entrances to every town should be through a park, that is to say, a belt of park about a mile or two in diameter, should entirely surround every town, save and excepting such sides as are washed by a river or lake' (Friend of Australia 1836). At that time Regent's Park lay on the edge of London and was connected to St James's Park and the centre of town by Regent's Street, Nash's curvaceous boulevard. It seems probable that this precedent, and other contemporary books on colonisation, were the source of William Light's plan for Adelaide . Light's plan influenced Ebenezer Howard's and Raymond Unwin's plans for green belts and park belts round london .