We have called for new developments to be designed to include protected open space for recreation. We were responding to the consultation on Net Gain from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The society argues that such open spaces should have long-term protection, and that they should be registered as a town or village green under the Commons Act 2006, or dedicated for access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Both provide permanent access for the public, and in the case of greens, the land is protected from development.
Says Nicola Hodgson, case officer for the Open Spaces Society: ‘Until now Net Gain has focused on increasing biodiversity. While this is a worthy and important aim, it is not enough. People should be given opportunities to enjoy open land within and close to new developments, to learn about nature and to enjoy fresh air and exercise. Developments should be providing a range of public benefits.
‘Our proposals, that as a quid pro quo for development, the applicants should provide permanent public access, are intended to ensure that people get a better deal out of development on their doorsteps.
‘We are keen to work with government and Natural England to make this a reality,’ says Nicola.