Latest News

Insider hacks: Public access and rights of way guidance the Government doesn’t want you to see

February 17, 2022

The Government has progressively reduced the amount of information available to the public on the web. Sometimes it has done this by rewriting guidance so that it is easier to understand — but sometimes it has just removed guidance altogether, either because it thinks there is insufficient interest, or because no-one is left to update…

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Queen's Crescent LGS, Exeter

Vital piece missing from ‘levelling-up’ jigsaw

February 2, 2022

We have criticised today’s announcement on levelling up as a missed chance to rectify the gross inequality of access to local spaces. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, has unveiled his ‘levelling-up plan’ without a mention of the importance of local green spaces.  Yet these, which have always been…

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A step up for England’s protected landscapes

January 20, 2022

The government has, at last, announced its response to the Landscapes Review in England.  The review, led by journalist Julian Glover, was published in September 2019, more than two years ago, and made ambitious recommendations for the future of our national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. In his foreword to the response Defra…

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The government’s betrayal on access—but it’s not too late

December 9, 2021

The society and other user groups have long campaigned for payments for access to be a part of the new, post-Brexit, environmental land management scheme (ELMS). We were dismayed when this was not included in the announcement on funding for the first level, the sustainable farming incentive (SFI). But the environment secretary, George Eustice, is…

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The Environment Act—a mixed bag

November 23, 2021

Our case officer, Nicola Hodgson, analyses the new Environment Act and finds it wanting. While we welcome the new Environment Act, we consider it to be a missed opportunity for public health and well-being. We tried to win legally-binding targets for public access but the government rejected our proposed amendments. The act gives many more…

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Attendees at the event on 15 July

The Society celebrates the strength of people power

October 25, 2021

‘So often success depends on the power of people coming together.’  So writes Kate Ashbrook, the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, in Opinion (page 1) of the society’s magazine Open Space, published today (25 October). Kate cites recent examples in which the society has been involved: saving Bristol’s downs from car-parking by the Downs…

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Little comfort from updated planning policies

July 22, 2021

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published an updated version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There are six main changes but we are disappointed that the revisions do not reflect the submission we made on the consultation. Says our case officer Nicola Hodgson: ‘We remain concerned that the government’s…

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Hampstead Heath in summer

Hampstead Heath’s milestone Act of Parliament

June 29, 2021

Today, 29 June, is the 150th anniversary of the Hampstead Heath Act 1871, which empowered the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) to purchase the Heath for the people.  Now the Heath belongs to the City of London Corporation and is managed for the benefit of the public. We are proud to have played a major…

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Government’s response to Glover Review is lacklustre

June 24, 2021

The Open Spaces Society is disappointed at the government’s initial response to the Glover Review on England’s protected landscapes.  This response is long overdue. The report, written by a panel led by Julian Glover, contains ambitious proposals.  It was published in September 2019 and the then environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, welcomed the findings.  Today the…

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Planning to grant a green?

June 15, 2021

Grant a Green On 26 April we launched our Grant a Green campaign, calling on local councils in England and Wales voluntarily to register their open spaces as town or village greens. Registration will give local people rights of recreation on the land and protect it from development. Now is the time to secure our…

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