Have a local green space you need to protect?
You may be able to get it special protection with a Local Green Space Designation.
In particular circumstances communities can protect areas of land that are of value to them.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in March 2012 provides communities with a means of protecting local green areas as a local green space.
Q. What is the National Planning Policy Framework?
The National Planning Framework (NPPF), published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in March 2012 and most recently updated in July 2021, sets out the government’s planning policies for England.
Paragraphs 147 to 151 introduce a Local Green Space designation (LGS) to protect local green areas of special importance to local communities.
This enables communities, in particular circumstances, to identify and protect areas that are of value to them through local and neighbourhood plans.
LGS is designated by the planning authority (borough, district, metropolitan or other unitary authority) and once it is in place, it is subject to the same strong development restrictions as Green Belt, ruling out new development except in special circumstances.
Local people need to lobby the authority to designate LGS, based on a set of special criteria.
Q. What are the ‘particular circumstances’ that qualify a piece of land for Local Green Space Designation protection?
- The land has to be ‘reasonably close to the community it serves’.
There is no definition of this in the NPPF and it will be up to individual planning authorities to define. This may vary depending on the size of the community to which the green space relates, the size of the green space or the value placed on it by the community. The land must not be isolated from the community. Some councils have policies relating to LGS and have introduced a maximum distance between the space and the community. For instance, one has stated it must be within 400 metres, another 600 metres.
- The land has to be ‘demonstrably special to a local community’.
Evidence must be provided of the land’s value to and use by the local community to show that it holds a particular local significance. The land must fulfil one or more of the following criteria:
This relates to the visual attractiveness of the site, and its contribution to landscape, character and or setting of the settlement. The LGS would need to contribute to local identity, character of the area and a sense of place, and make an important contribution to the physical form and layout of the settlement. It may link up with other open spaces and allow views through or beyond the settlement which are valued locally.
(b) Historic significance
The land should provide a setting for, and allow views of, heritage assets or other locally-valued landmarks. It may be necessary to research historic records from the County Archaeologist or National or Local Records Office.
(c) Recreational value
It must have local significance for recreation, perhaps through the variety of activities it supports, and be of value to the community.
Some authorities have an existing tranquility map showing areas that provide an oasis of calm and a space for quiet reflection.
(e) Richness of wildlife
This might include the value of its habitat, and priority areas may have been identified by the council. It may require some objective evidence, such as a designation, like a wildlife site or Local Nature Reserve.
- The land needs to be ‘local in character, not an extensive tract of land’.
The criteria may differ between settlements depending on their physical size and population. The areas would normally be fairly self-contained with clearly-defined edges.
Q. What is the process for establishing LGS?
LGS can only be designated when the local plan is being reviewed or a neighbourhood plan is being produced. However, even if neither of these processes is occurring in your area now, you should identify the areas you would like to see designated as LGS.
Check if your council has policies for the designation of LGS and frame your application accordingly. Collect the evidence for designation, and submit this to the council when the local plan is reviewed or neighbourhood plan is being produced. Lobby your local councillor too.
Some planning authorities have identified a list of areas that they consider would be appropriate for LGS designation. This may be part of a consultation on Draft Site and Policies Plan, or Allocations Plan.
Join the Open Spaces Society and we can help you fight for your local open space.
We are the UK’s oldest conservation charity and we have been protecting open spaces for people to cherish and enjoy in England and Wales since 1865.
We campaign for stronger protection for village greens, commons and footpaths. We believe everyone has the right to enjoy the open spaces that matter to them. If you agree, join us.
As a member, you can count on the support of our expert team based at our head office in Henley-on-Thames. Depending on where you live, you may also have a local Open Spaces Society correspondent (our name for volunteer) who may be able to help you.