A TEAM of academics has produced a study on the impact of City Park in Bradford in which they detail how it has brought the city together by "drawing in marginalised groups".
The article, titled "The great meeting place: Bradford's City Park and inclusive urban space," says the park offers important lessons for public policy and how to make schemes in other cities succeed.
The article has been written by a team comprising of Anna Barker, criminology lecturer at the University of Bradford, sociology lecturers Ala Sirriyeh, of Keele University, and Nathan Manning, of the University of York, and has now been published by Discover Society.
The study was written after the trio spoke to visitors in the park, the council staff who work there and local businesses.
City Park opened in spring 2012 and cost £24.5 million to construct. It has become one of the district's top attractions, and regularly attracts crowds.
The academics say the success of City Park is partly down to the fact that it has not sacrificed its "social inclusion aims" for commercial purposes.
Recent figures released by Bradford Council show that events in City Park alone have attracted more than 400,000 people in two years. They include the annual Christmas lights switch on, Bradford Pride, Bradford Festival and the International Curry Festival.
The study states: "City Park has thus far evaded being territorialised; it remains a very open public space with the potential to disrupt easy labelling of the stranger as enemy."
It adds: "City Park is open ended and public; capable of facilitating inter-cultural interaction, but this is not forced or contrived.
"Members of the public commented on on the free public toilets on the site, free access to space and the free events, in contrast to some urban spaces that offer few amenities and are often fenced off for ticketed events with entry fees.
"The park has given people somewhere to simply sit and be - somewhere to linger. Young people told us it was somewhere they felt welcome, somewhere they could hang out without being moved on, as they often would be in shopping centres."
It says that a community space like City Park would likely have been used for more commercial purposes in many cities, adding: "It could be claimed that this kind of public space that Bradford has created could only occur in a context where property prices are low and commercial motives for development are hampered.
"In a more prosperous city commercial pressures might press regeneration projects towards more privatised, business and consumption oriented developments.
"City Park is highly valued and provides a number of benefits and resources for residents and visitors. The park is still a young space, but offers some important lessons for public policy in terms of the management of diversity and inclusion."
AN AWARD-WINNING DEVELOPMENT
SINCE it opened just over two years ago, City Park has clinched nine design and regeneration awards.
They include Urban Design Group's Project of the Year, Academy of Urbanism's Great Place, LUX, Urban Lighting Project of the Year, Considerate Constructors Scheme, CECA Award - For Construction Excellence, Local Government Making A Difference Award, British Construction Regeneration Award and the Royal Town Planning Institute Planning Excellence Award.