Mersey Gateway bridge viewed from waterside path

Utilisation of blue space in Liverpool City Region

How could Liverpool's blue spaces be better utilised?


Blue spaces are defined by the Environment Agency as:

‘Outdoor environments – either natural or manmade – that prominently feature water and are accessible to humans either proximally (being in, on, or near water) or distally (being able to see, hear, or otherwise sense water).’

Approximately half of the UK’s population engages with blue spaces at least once per month. The 2013 British Household Panel Survey showed significantly better mental health for families living less than 5km from the coast than those over 50km. However, use of blue spaces might also reflect societal inequality; for example, they're less used by UK ethnic minorities, with 3-4% of Black and Asian children visiting versus 12% of white children. The type of blue space can cause varying health benefits, with coasts being more beneficial for mental health than estuaries. Liverpool City Region, with its shared waterfronts, range of blue spaces (estuary, river, sea), and known health and social inequalities is an ideal hub to explore how blue space assets can be better utilised.

Project aims

The principal aim of the project is to enhance understanding of how blue space is defined by the public and professionals, with a focus on Liverpool City Region. This contextual precision will strengthen connections between how blue space is used and how it is valued, resulting in public-centric policies that enhance utilisation and access to blue space. Improved understanding of which blue space can mitigate urban health risks or simply instil attachment to place will inform future waterfront revitalisation and public health schemes.

Project team

The project is led by Dr Charlotte Lyddon from the University of Liverpool's Department of Geography and Planning, with Dr Thomas Hampton, Research Fellow at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and Joanna Hayes from the University of Liverpool's Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place.

Launch event

The project began with a workshop on 15 March 2024, on 'Waterways and blue spaces in urban health and policy'. A visual representation of the day's discussion was produced by More than Minutes.


Drawing and description of blue space ideas and activities


Back to: Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place