Thamesmead has an extended network of blue and green natural spaces, with several sites of nature conservation interest. However, case study stakeholders underlined how these natural areas are underused. Through participatory system dynamics modelling workshops and interviews, we developed maps (causal loop diagrams) that allowed us to compare how different stakeholder groups perceive the factors influencing the quality of Thamesmead’s blue/green/built infrastructure.
After the initial qualitative phase, we created a simulation model and used it to build learning and co-produce novel knowledge on what affects people’s use of natural space in Thamesmead, taking a holistic approach to investigate the factors influencing it. The model explores the dynamics over a 60-year time horizon (2000–2060); it captures dynamics between the use of natural space, perception of safety, and community participation, together with other influencing system elements such as design aspects. Unlike conventional studies, it represents the impact on both physical and mental health.
Through an online interface, the model allowed the stakeholders to test different scenarios together, exploring how they affect the use of natural space by capturing the dynamics between the influencing system elements. It was an example of true co-production of knowledge. The stakeholders were Peabody, Marsh Dykes and Thamesmead catchment partnership, Thames 21, London Wild Trust, Environmental Agency, GLA, Thames Water, Clever Cities project, and we partnered with the CAMELLIA project.