Housing White Paper—a lost opportunity to create new green space

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We have criticised the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Housing White Paper* for threatening to undermine Local Green Space (LGS). The society believes that LGS should provide opportunities for public enjoyment and well-being.

LGS was introduced in the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012, but government has never defined it nor prescribed a process for its designation, so it remains underused and uncomprehended.

Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘While LGS is an excellent concept, there has never been a clear process for its designation, nor is there guidance on how it should be managed, enforced and protected.

Queen’s Crescent Gardens, local green space in Exeter, Devon

‘The NPPF only affords LGS the same protection as green belt, which is itself threatened, and LGS confers no rights of access for the public.

‘We hoped that the Housing White Paper would take the opportunity to set these things out, so that LGS could be a clear part of the planning process. Instead, we fear that it will be undermined. Every planning authority seems to have a different interpretation of the meaning of LGS and of designating it and, even when local people have applied for land to be designated as LGS, there is nothing to stop a planning application from being considered and determined.

‘We also believe that where land has been designated as LGS, its protection will be weakened by the proposals in the White Paper to allocate sites for development in the green belt through neighbourhood plans. We have argued that, if green belt is to be developed, additional green accessible space should be made available.

‘We have reminded government that Natural England argues that there should be accessible natural green space within 300 metres of where people live. LGS can provide just that,’ Nicola concludes.

Examples of LGS include:
• Queen’s Crescent Gardens, Exeter
• Land at Aspley Guise, Central Bedfordshire
• Land at Freshford and Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire
• Land at Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire

* The White Paper is a consultation paper, Fixing our Broken Housing Market, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The closing date is 2 May.

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