We deplore green space ‘sop’

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Our vice-president, the open spaces expert Paul Clayden, condemned the government’s Local Green Space designation as a sop to local people, and no substitute for village and town greens.

Green at Westgate-on-Sea successfully registered in 2014

Green at Westgate-on-Sea successfully registered in 2014

He was addressing our annual general meeting in London on 8 July.

Paul said: ‘The Local Green Space, introduced in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework in 2012, has so far proved of no value. Unlike village greens, the designation gives the land no permanent protection, nor does it give the public the legal right to enjoy it. Yet the government offered Local Green Space as a sweetener when it slashed opportunities to register land as greens in its Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013.

‘Despite this, we know of no new green spaces that have been designated, and government has given little guidance to local authorities or local people on how to achieve them.

‘All the evidence shows that registration as a village or town green is still the best way to ensure that people can continue to enjoy their open spaces. We constantly remind people that landowners can register land voluntarily, there are no legal tests and the process is straightforward.

‘In particular, local councils can and should do this for their communities. We commend Henley-on-Thames Town Council, for instance, which registered Gillotts Field in 2009 and has secured this green wedge between the town and new developments, for local people to enjoy.

‘Similarly, Downley Parish Council in Bucks registered the 1.3-acre Gosling Grove Green in the same year. They are shining examples to others,’ Paul concluded.

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