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We made a host of recommendations to secure urban green spaces for public enjoyment.
These recommendations have been published by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee, which last year conducted an inquiry into the ecological, environmental, and human benefits of green space, and the most effective solutions to making cities greener and nature rich.
The society proposes among other things:
- A full review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to take proper account of open spaces.
- A national plan for open spaces, with a standard for the amount of green space to be provided, and ring-fenced funding to secure good-quality spaces close to people’s homes.
- 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.
- A mandate on developers to provide open space as integral to all major development, and to dedicate that land as town or village green, so that local people have rights of recreation there and it is secure for ever.
- An improved process for Local Green Space, with stronger protection to ensure that local open spaces are not vulnerable to development.
- An amendment to permitted development rights and permission in principle for development so that new development does not adversely affect public rights of way.
Says Nicola Hodgson, case officer for the society: ‘The government has missed significant opportunities for tackling the urgent nature and climate crises. It has failed to bring forward strategic policies that would enable the planning system to work positively for nature and people.
‘The current open-space provisions and policies in the planning system relating to the disposal of open space are designed mainly to assist developers rather than to protect existing green space. Mitigation measures may not even benefit the same neighbourhood as that which has lost green space.
‘We say that the planning system must give the same or greater priority to the protection and creation of open space as it does to other infrastructure requirements. Provisions to secure robust legal protection and funding for long-term maintenance of urban green space must be addressed urgently. Councils should be adequately funded to improve access for recreation and protection of open space using the powers available to them [see the society’s guidance to local councils].
‘We look forward to the report from the EFRA committee, and hope that it can make a real difference to open space protection and provision,’ says Nicola.