Impacts of Decreasing Backyard sizes in Perth Greenfield Developments: Full Research Report

Research Report


Impacts of Decreasing Backyard Size


Dr Isaac Middle, Assoc. Prof. Garry Middle, Dr James Smith, Professor Marian Tye



The report presents detailed findings from a study prompted by concerns of outer metropolitan Perth Local Government towards a gradual reduction of the size of backyards since the middle of the 20th century, resulting from higher density development, larger dwellings and changing community needs. While this study did not find any conclusive evidence of negative unintended impacts, it did suggest some potential impacts on residents in outer suburbs with small backyards. The research has identified trends indicating that, for the participants in this study, as backyard size decreases, less time is spent in private outdoor space. This reduced utilisation of backyards, including less use for different activities, may have potential consequences for health and wellbeing when considered within broader academic literature. Importantly, these trends and their potential impacts appear most significant for children. However, this reduction in backyard size may, to some extent, be being offset by compensatory use of local parks. Implications for planning policy, immediate questions raised by the findings for future research, as well as considerations relating to consumer education and design challenges are proposed. Findings are grouped around four key themes: Satisfaction with and Significance of Backyard Size; Individual Dimensions of Backyards; Community Dimensions of Backyards; Compensatory Use of Public Parks. The research employed a range of data collection methods, including aerial photography, investigation of complaints databases, survey of residents, and review of the policy implications of the study findings.

How to cite:

Middle, I., G. Middle, J. Smith, and M. Tye. Impacts of Decreasing Backyard sizes in Perth Greenfield Developments: Full Research Report. Centre for Sport and Recreation Research, Curtin University, Perth, December 2015.