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How do the ’Peace Gardens’ make you feel? public space and personal wellbeing in City Centre Sheffield

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This paper reports on a pilot project to examine the concept of wellbeing as expressed locally by public reaction to the Peace Gardens refurbishment in the city centre of Sheffield completed in 1999. It was immediately popular with the public, but the aim was to find out what benefit people felt they derived from using the space. The study was conducted via a questionnaire delivered on site to pedestrian traffic over three weeks one summer. Over a thousand users of the space were asked one very simple question: How do the Peace Gardens make you feel? The authors’ interpretation of the responses indicates a very high level of approval. Users of the space reported high satisfaction across four themes: wellbeing, safety, community and respite. While these findings largely accord with the literature, further planned city-centre development threatens the success of the Peace Gardens. The paper considers whether the planning of such spaces is designed to empower users to meet others on their own terms, or whether planners recognize that social needs require to be more controlled in busy urban environments.

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