Communications & Media

Place attachment has role in city planning

University of Tasmania researchers have invented a method to determine and map patterns of place attachment, which has potential to be used in city planning processes.

Geographers, Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick and Dr Andrew Harwood, joined environmental scientist Professor Ted Lefroy to ask people in Tasmania which places they loved the most, and why?

The study sought to determine whether groups of individuals have similar spatial patterns of attachment at a state scale in Tasmania.

The research also explored whether attachments to ‘place spaces’ are differently motivated, and socially or environmentally determined.

“Up until now, there has never been a way to quantify a sense of place, or place attachment, into data to be used in city planning processes,” Professor Kirkpatrick said.

“People love particular places for many reasons ranging from childhood memories; to a love of history manifested in a landscape; to the deep spirituality of their experiences in wilderness.

“Yet, the criteria used in planning processes are seldom directly related to people’s deep sense of attachment to place.”

The researchers used repeatable numeric methods to classify respondents by their patterns of place attachment.

They surveyed 293 respondents across Tasmania.

Key findings included:

Place of birth most influenced reasons for attachment. The Tasmanian-born tended to love places for family reasons

  • People who moved to Tasmania from elsewhere tended to be more focused on natural or historical landscapes
  • Four of the place spaces the researchers found were remarkably similar to the territories of the Tasmanian Aboriginal nations
  • The place attachment groups were centred on places such as kunanyi/Mt Wellington, Bruny Island, Battery Point, Launceston, the Derwent Valley, Cradle Mountain and Freycinet.

“Our study has proved it is possible to find out the areas groups of people are most attached to in any one region and the reasons for those attachments. Both attachments and reasons for attachments should be taken into account in planning decisions,” Professor Kirkpatrick said. 

“Place attachments should be seen as part of the data that is used in planning processes, as they hold great value in communities.”

The research, ‘Turning place into space – Place motivations and place spaces in Tasmania’, was published in Landscape and Urban Planning.

Published on: 07 Sep 2018 11:47am