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‘It is deplorable that, 16 months after the government published its plans for protecting England’s green spaces through a new Local Green Space Designation, very few such designations have been made.’
So declared Paul Clayden, our vice-president, at the society’s AGM in Birmingham on Tuesday (16 July).
‘In March 2012 the government published its National Planning Policy Framework, announcing the new Local Green Space (LGS). Communities, through local or neighbourhood plans, can submit applications for sites to have special protection as LGS, but it is unclear what is the exact process for their designation—and there is so far no guidance,’ he continued.
‘Some councils are consulting the public to identify sites for designation. We commend Bath & North East Somerset, Central Bedfordshire and Leicestershire County Councils for instance.
‘In addition, under the Localism Act 2011, planning authorities are required to publish lists of assets of community value. We question how many have actually done so.
‘At the same time, through the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, government has made it much more difficult to register land as a green to protect it from development. Where land in England is threatened, it is no longer possible to apply to register it as a green.
‘Government pays lip-service to open space protection but does not provide the tools for the job.
‘The society is conscious of the divergence in laws in England and Wales, as Wales introduces its own legislation. We intend to play an active part in the development of Welsh legislation to ensure that commons, greens, open spaces and public paths are protected and promoted.
‘Meanwhile, we call on our members and others to:
• identify any land in their communities which is eligible for registration as a village green, and to apply for registration before it is threatened with development,
• identify land which might be protected as Local Green Space or an asset of community value,
• tell us what they would like to see in Welsh legislation for commons, greens, open spaces, paths and public access and enjoyment.’