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We have called for developers and landowners in London to dedicate open spaces as town greens, to protect them in perpetuity and to give local people rights of recreation there.
The society has responded to the London Mayor’s consultation on the Public London Charter, which sets out the rights and responsibilities for users, owners and managers of public spaces.
The society recommends that the charter exhorts developers and landowners to dedicate new and existing public space as town green.
Says Kate Ashbrook, the society’s general secretary: ‘This is a relatively simple process and will bring immense public benefit. Local authorities should encourage developers voluntarily to dedicate greens as mitigation for development. It is not good enough merely to provide public space within a development, that land needs to be protected for the public and people need legal rights there. Dedication as a green is the best, and probably the only, way to achieve this.’
We have also called for the charter to address the use of existing paths, and creation of new ones, to link up green spaces.
Any commercial use of open space must be strictly regulated, and limited in area so that the public still has access to the majority of the space, the society argues. All damage must be made good immediately after the event and, if there is a risk of damage, the event should not be permitted. The society has seen the appalling commercial abuse of many London spaces, for instance Clapham Common and Finsbury Park, and wants this to be properly regulated.
Finally, we note the value of friends’ groups who can supplement the efforts of others to care for open spaces and provide essential eyes and ears and opportunities for feedback. We assert that local authorities and other landowners should be encouraged to work with communities to ensure the spaces are managed and cared for in the interests of those who use them.