, Netherlands
City population: 315851
Duration: 2015 – 2019
Implementation status: Completed
Scale: Sub-microscale: Street scale (including buildings)
Project area: unknown
Type of area: Public Greenspace Area
Last updated: October 2021

The Roerplein pocket garden was a Neighborhood Green Plan project. The Neighborhood Green Plans were an initiative of Utrecht Municipality to support the bottom-up 'greening' of its neighbourhoods. Citizens could propose a variety of often quite small-scaled plans that enhance the neighbourhood by means of green spaces that promote social cohesion and thereby community identity. At the Roerplein, a public square was transformed into a green square by way of a participatory process, assisted by a social entrepreneur. The project aimed to reduce heat stress, enhance social cohesion and the attractiveness of the neighbourhood, promote biodiversity and support recreation (ref. 1).

The Green Public Square from Above (2014)
Photographer: Jack Bos, retrieved 08/17/2018 from Anne-Mette van Lieshout-Andersen


Nature-based solution

  • Parks and urban forests
  • Pocket parks/neighbourhood green spaces

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Social cohesion
  • Social interaction
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Creation of opportunities for recreation


Creation of new green areas

Project objectives

The goals of the project include: - reducing urban heat stress - promoting social cohesion, higher quality green spaces, and community engagement with their local environment - reducing the attractiveness of the square for youth groups hanging around - improving the relationship between citizens and the municipality (ref. 1)

Implementation activities

A resident proposed to turn a paved square, the Roerplein (situated in South West Utrecht), into a green square, an idea that gained approval by other residents after involvement of a social entrepreneur in orchestrating public meetings on the proposals received. Using the input of local people collected at several sessions, the social entrepreneur then made the final design for Roerplein. The municipality has engaged in contingency planning by making an agreement with the residents that they will take on maintenance responsibilities if the community can no longer provide this. However, they would replace current planting with relatively low-maintenance alternatives. The citizens organized themselves into a foundation in order to support management continuity through clear allocation of responsibilities (ref. 1).

Climate-focused activities

Climate change adaptation:

  • Increase or improve urban vegetation cover to help reduce outdoor temperature
  • Create or improve outdoor spaces to help people escape from urban heat

Main beneficiaries

  • Citizens or community groups


Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality
  • Non-government organisation/civil society
  • Citizens or community group

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning (e.g. stakeholder workshops, focus groups, participatory mapping)
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys, community meetings, town halls)
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)
  • Co-management/Joint management

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

Citizens can propose a variety of quite small-scale plans that enhance the neighbourhood and the municipality funds ideas meeting their criteria, which are mostly related to accessibility and policy congruence. In the case of Roerplein, the municipality funded an idea by a group of local citizens to turn a paved public square into a green square. The idea was developed through a participatory process orchestrated by a social entrepreneur, hired by the Nature and Environment Federation Utrecht (NMU). NMU had shown an interest in the plans for South West Utrecht because they were looking to green a site as part of their project work on the urban heat island effect. After implementation by the social entrepreneur together with NMU, a self-management group of neighbors was established who still look after the garden (ref. 1).

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Unknown
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (The Neighbourhood Green Plans have been crucial to the development of the Roerplein project, while ongoing financial support for park maintenance is also provided. The funds for the Neighbourhood Green Plan have been made available through the Multi-Annual Green Programme, which outlines concrete proposals to deliver the city’s green space vision. An important strategic document is the Green Structure Plan, which was recently updated to reflect a stronger focus on nature as a solution to urban challenges as part of the healthy urbanisation agenda (ref. 1). )


Total cost

€500,000 - €2,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • Public local authority budget

Type of funding

  • Earmarked public budget (e.g. governament grants or subsidies)

Non-financial contribution

Type of non-financial contribution
  • Provision of labour
Who provided the non-financial contribution?
  • Citizens (e.g. volunteering)

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Climate change
  • Lowered local temperature
  • Green space and habitat
  • Increased green space area

Economic impacts

  • Reduce financial cost for urban management

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Social justice and cohesion
  • Improved social cohesion
  • Improved access to urban green space
  • Increased opportunities for social interaction
  • Increased involvement of locals in the management of green spaces
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Gain in activities for recreation and exercise

Type of reported impacts

Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records


Green Public Square (2014)
AM Landskab, retrieved 08/17/2018 from Anne-Mette van Lieshout-Andersen
Green Public Square (2014)
AM Landskab, retrieved 08/17/2018 from Anne-Mette van Lieshout-Andersen