Today we call for a better deal for open spaces in Wales. We have published a charter and have written to Julie James, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, and all of Wales’s planning authorities.
We want the government to introduce a national plan and standards for open spaces and to revise and update technical advice note (TAN) 16 on open space and recreation. We advocate a duty on local authorities to ensure that everyone can enjoy good-quality, well-maintained and safe open space within 300 metres of their homes. We say that such spaces should be secured as part of development.
The society urges planning authorities to adopt robust policies for the acquisition, management and protection of green spaces with a budget; to dedicate their green spaces as town or village green, and to produce supplementary planning guidance about open spaces provision following the example of Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire and Swansea.
We recommend communities to get involved in their local planning processes before land is allocated for development, to identify spaces which need protection, and to form friends’ groups to champion local spaces.
We shall lobby the Westminster government to secure open spaces and access to nature through the 25-year environment plan, the Agriculture and Environment Bills and the new Environmental Land Management Scheme, and the Welsh government to ensure that these laws and policies, when implemented in Wales, secure the protection of open spaces and access to nature. We shall continue to advise our members on how to protect their open spaces.
In particular the society wants to see greater use of the opportunity to register land as a town or village green as mitigation for development, and has asked each planning authority to consider voluntary registration of the land which it owns, and to encourage developers to do the same by making this a condition of planning permission. We have also asked the authorities to send examples of its policies and good practice for open spaces, so that we can create a dossier for green space, and spread the word.
Says Phil Wadey, our newly-elected chairman: ‘During lockdown people have enjoyed their local spaces and paths as never before, and this use continues beyond the pandemic. We know there is a great disparity in the distribution and quality of open spaces, and that investment in these assets provides excellent value for money by improving people’s health and well-being.
‘We therefore call on the government, local authorities and communities to work together to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality green space close to home. This is a vital element of the green recovery after the pandemic. We have made proposals as to how this can be achieved.’