Support us from £3/month
We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?
The proposed new Local Green Space designation, in the government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), is a muddle. It confers no right for the public to go there, so it may be that we can only look at it and not walk on it.
The society has responded to the consultation on the draft NPPF, in which the Department for Communities and Local Government proposes a new Local Green Space designation ‘to protect locally significant green areas which are special to local communities’. They are to be identified by local communities through the local and neighbourhood plans.
Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘This new green space designation is so shackled by restrictions as to render it useless.
‘We are told that it must “complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services”. It “will not be appropriate for most green areas of open space”. The space must be in reasonably close proximity to a centre of population or urban area, it must hold a particular local significance and it must not be an extensive tract of land.
‘Furthermore, while it must not overlap with Green Belt, the management of development there “should be consistent with policy for Green Belts”.
‘But then we are told of a host of developments which are allowed in Green Belt and therefore on the new Local Green Space—buildings for agriculture and forestry, facilities for outdoor sport, infilling in villages, mineral extraction, engineering operations and transport infrastructure, and much else.
‘There is no requirement for the public to be able to use and enjoy the Local Green Space for informal recreation. So people may look at it but not necessarily walk on it.
‘While the Green Space is supposedly identified by the local community through the local and neighbourhood plans, there is no explanation of the process for designation. We have a list of unanswered questions which show how ill thought out the proposals are.
‘These include: How is the land designated? Do communities identify the land? Will there be a minimum requirement of public support? Who will decide if land is to be designated as Local Green Space and included in the local plan? Will there be an appeal process? What will happen to existing open space that is not designated? Who will manage the land? How will it be protected? What powers of enforcement are given to local authorities?
‘It is proposed that the designation should form part of the neighbourhood plan—but such plans are not mandatory, and are intended to allow increased development.
‘In April, we sent to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, our manifesto, A framework for green space, which sets out what the new designation should achieve. We said that the new designation must guarantee permanent protection and must place on the local authority a duty to protect the land, together with powers of enforcement, through the courts if necessary.
‘Unfortunately Mr Pickles failed even to reply to us, and he has ignored our proposals.
‘We fear that the Local Green Space designation is completely meaningless,’ Nicola concludes.