Charter for Open Spaces in Wales

The Open Spaces Society has been defending open spaces in England and Wales since 1865.

Open spaces for the future

Through the pandemic, people have been enjoying their local open spaces and paths as never before. But these spaces and paths are themselves under threat, from development pressures, neglect and local authority austerity.  Moreover, there is not equal provision and those who most need safe, quiet spaces close to home are denied them because it is left to local authorities to make decisions about the amount and location of open space.

We call on government to:

  • Introduce a national plan for open spaces, with a national standard for the amount of green space and ring-fenced funding which will secure good-quality spaces close to people’s homes.
  • Introduce a new designation, similar to the Local Green Space in England but with clearer criteria, stronger protection and public access.
  • Require the revision and update of TAN16 Open space and recreation guidance note.
  • Place a duty on local authorities to ensure that everyone can enjoy good-quality, well-maintained and safe open space within 300 metres of their homes. This can be assisted by requiring:
    • local authorities to manage and protect their green spaces, and to provide the resources to achieve this;
    • developers to provide open space as an integral part of all major development, and to dedicate the land as town or village green so that local people have rights of recreation there and it is secure for ever.

We call on local authorities to:

  • Adopt robust policies for the acquisition, management and protection of green spaces in their areas.
  • Establish a protected budget for green spaces.
  • Dedicate their green spaces as town or village green.
  • Produce supplementary planning guidance about open space provision and guidance as good practice (Carmarthenshire, Caerphilly and Swansea have done this or are working on it), and use Natural Resources Wales’s Green Space Toolkit.
Castle Acre view towards Mumbles Rd, Swansea, now protected as a village green.
Castle Acre view towards Mumbles Rd, Swansea, now protected as a village green.
Village green at Penpedairheol, Caerphilly. Photo: Steve Morgan
Village green at Penpedairheol, Caerphilly. Photo: Steve Morgan

We call on local communities to:

  • Get involved in local plans before land is allocated for development, and identify spaces which need protection.
  • Form friends’ groups, which can:
    • care for their local spaces,
    • raise money, carrying out voluntary work,
    • act as a pressure group to fight development.

The Open Spaces Society will:

  • Lobby the Westminster government to keep its promises to secure open spaces and access to nature, and to ensure the new Environmental Land Management Scheme provides payments for improved access.
  • Lobby the Welsh government to ensure that these laws and policies, when implemented in Wales, secure the protection of open spaces and access to nature.

Advise our members on how to protect their open spaces for the benefit of their communities.

Open Spaces Society, July 2020


The New Economics Foundation (NEF) estimated that there were eight million fewer visits to parks and greenspaces across the United Kingdom than would usually be expected, when compared with the 2018 April average.  Further analysis by NEF using the Google COVID-19 Community Mobility dataset found different trends in use of parks or public green spaces between poorer and richer local authorities. Where data was available, they found that the poorest twenty local authorities reported an average 28% reduction in the use of parks compared with the 2018 April average, meanwhile the wealthiest 20 local authorities reported no change in park use.

The think tank Centre for Cities, focuses on improving the economies of the UK’s largest cities and towns. Its article ‘How easy is it for people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic?‘ concluded that the provision of public open space, such as parks, varies by location and that not all built-up areas can currently provide enough space for the inhabitants to exercise safely and maintain social distancing.

Natural Resources Wales Green Space toolkit.

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Need to know more?

  • Siarter ar gyfer lleoedd agored mewn Cymru

    Darllenwch ein siarter ar gyfer dyfodol mannau agored yng Nghymru.

  • Charter for open spaces in England

    Read our charter for the future of open spaces in England.

  • Strategic Plan 2019 - 2024

    Read our strategic plan for 2019-2024 which outlines how we will realise our vision for paths and open spaces.

  • How do we protect open spaces?

    Read our article about protecting open and green space close to where people live.

  • Natural Resources Wales Toolkit

    Local green spaces report from Natural Resources Wales

  • Nature Recovery Action Plan 2020-21

    Welsh Government strategy to restore the natural environment and make it more resilient.

  • Paths & Open Spaces in Wales

    We have specialist knowledge of Welsh planning laws and regularly support our members in Wales to protect the open spaces they care about.

  • Town and village greens

    Find out how to register land as a town or village green.

  • Enabling healthy placemaking

    Royal Town Planning Institute July 2020 research seeks to identify the challenges faced by planners who try to integrate healthy placemaking principles in their decisions.

  • Creating healthier places and spaces

    A resource from Public Health Wales that focuses on six priority areas of the built and natural environment that can positively impact on health and wellbeing.

  • Building better places

    The planning system delivering resilient and brighter futures for Wales. A document that identifies actions to achieve a people-focussed and placemaking-led recovery.

  • Vivid Economics & Barton Willmore case study commissioned by the National Trust

    Levelling up and building back better through urban green infrastructure: An investment options appraisal.

  • New Economics Foundation Research

    Read the New Economics Foundation post-Covid-19 research in full.

  • Centre for Cities

    Read the think tank's artcle about how easy it is for people to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Wildlife & Countryside Link - putting nature at the heart of a Coronavirus recovery plans

    Read this blog about recent You Gov research commissioned by the RSPB