Green spaces, open places

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The Open Spaces Society’s call to candidates in the Senedd election, 6 May 2021.

The pandemic has shown the importance of public paths and open spaces for recreation and relaxation, now is the time to invest in them for the health and well-being of the people of Wales. The Open Spaces Society[1] calls on candidates for the Senedd elections to commit themselves to the following action points.

Comin Coch Common, near Builth Wells, Powys, Wales

Open spaces [2]

1. Create a detailed plan for open spaces, with a national standard for the amount of green space, and ring-fenced funding to secure it.[3]

2. Place a duty on local authorities to ensure that everyone can enjoy good-quality, well-maintained and safe open space close to home.

3. Revise and update planning guidance[4]
to give greater protection to open space.

4. Require developers to provide open space as integral to all major development, and to register it as town or village green to protect it for ever.

Public paths and access

5. All public paths in Wales recorded, open and easy to use, with all unsealed public highways included on the definitive map of rights of way. Repeal of the law which will, on 1 January 2026, close definitive maps to claims based on historical evidence.

6. The new agricultural funding regime to be directed to providing more and better public access, with cross-compliance to reduce the abuse of public paths.

7. Greater rights of public access to land—but with no downgrading of the status, protection and recognition of public paths.

Common land and town and village greens

8. Common land better protected from encroachment, with a duty on local authorities to act against unlawful works.

9. Speed limit of 40mph on all unfenced roads across common land, to safeguard stock, the landscape and public access.

10. A requirement for common land and town and village greens within or adjacent to proposed development to be a material planning-consideration.

[1] The Open Spaces Society (in full the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society) is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. Founded in 1865 we campaign to create and conserve common land, town and village greens, open spaces and public paths, in town and country, throughout Wales and England. We are consulted by the Welsh Government on all applications for works on common land, and by highway authorities on all changes to the public-path network.

[2] The Open Spaces Society’s Charter for Open Spaces provides more detail of the action we would like government to take.

[3] The Open Spaces Society has signed the Placemaking Charter to support the protection of local spaces in Wales through good design and community involvement.

[4] The current guidance, technical advice note 16, has not been updated since 2009.

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