Open Spaces

The open spaces we champion come in all shapes and sizes and can be in the countryside or in towns.
Is the local open space you love and use protected? Don’t take it for granted!

 

How can you defend the open and green spaces that matter to you?

We are very often asked to advise on protecting open spaces - here is a summary of the options that can be considered. One of the most effective ways for you to stand up for your right to use a local open space is to join the Open Spaces Society. As a charity, we depend on public donations to fund our vital campaigning and legal work.

As a member, you can count on the support of our expert team based at our head office in Henley-on-Thames. Depending on where you live, you may also have a local Open Spaces Society correspondent (our name for volunteer) who may be able to help you. Find out if you have a local correspondent here

What is an open space?

The open spaces we champion come in all shapes and sizes. They can be in the countryside but also in towns.

They are usually spaces people have chosen to use for recreation, whether formal or informal.

The open spaces we are asked to defend often comprise land where the public has a right to wander such as a local green space, or an open space that has no legal protection but which people use.

It could be a stretch of grass where children play, local people go blackberry picking or to enjoy a picnic.

But just because you use it doesn’t mean it’s protected unless you do something about it. Read about some of our campaigning work to protect open spaces here.

Is the local open space you love and use protected? Don’t take it for granted.

Download our toolkit below and find out how to protect your local green space

Rally at Panshanger Park, Hertfordshireshire, in 2015.

Get our toolkit

As part of our campaign to save England’s much-loved open spaces, we have published an open spaces toolkit consisting of three handbooks:

How to win local green space through neighbourhood plans
Community assets and protecting open space
Local Green Space Designation

Further resources about Open Spaces

  • Neighbourhood Planning and Protecting Open Spaces

    Neighbourhood planning gives communities in England the opportunity and power to set local planning policies.

  • CPRE Local Green Spaces report, 2022

    CPRE’s February 2022 research into what is currently available in the toolbox of the planning system for local people to protect the local green spaces.

  • Driving and parking on your local green space

    Residents often want to be able to stop cars, motorcycles, and even lorries and other large vehicles, from being driven and parked on their local open space for various reasons.

  • Community Assets and Protecting Open Space

    We tell you how to make use of the community asset process to protect your local open space.

  • Vehicular access across Common Land and Town or Village Greens

    This provides guidance about vehicular access across common land and town or village greens following the repeal of section 68 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

  • How to win local green space through neighbourhood plans

    Neighbourhood planning gives communities in England the opportunity and power to set local planning policies. You can shape the place where you live and protect valued open spaces using the local green space designation.

  • How can open spaces be protected?

    A summary of the basic rules that apply to community open space and its protection for the local community

  • Court cases - open spaces

    Here you can find our commentary for decisions in the courts about open spaces cases.

  • What local councils can do for public access to town and countryside

    Local councils have a unique role in protecting and caring for the open spaces in their areas.  This information sheet sets out how they can go about this.

  • A charter for England's open spaces

    Read our August 2020 charter for the promotion and protection of open spaces so that everyone in England can benefit.

  • Protecting commons, greens and open spaces training course

    Learn the fundamentals on this comprehensive course to include definitions, registration/designation, protection and management.

  • A problem solved

    Read some of the Open Spaces Society's advice and case studies relating to problems when protecting land.

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Open Spaces

    Common questions about open spaces

  • Government Guidance - Public Access and Rights of Way in England

    Insider hacks: three Government publications that will help you to protect public access and rights of way.

  • Local Green Space Designation

    The Local Green Space designation (LGS)  protects local green areas of particular importance to local communities.

  • A framework for green space

    A proposal to create a new designation to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities

Our latest posts on Open Spaces

A summer of celebration for new village greens in Havering

Earlier this year, we were delighted when Havering Council formally agreed to adopt five new village greens which it had previously identified as much-needed sites across the borough. This summer, the council is celebrating the new sites with a series of event and dedications over the coming weeks. The first of these events, which local…
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Public access to green space must be priority for new government 

‘Public access to good-quality green spaces must be a priority for the new government.’  So declared our chairman Phil Wadey at the society’s annual general meeting held on the day of the general election.  ‘We stand ready with suggestions for the government to improve access to, and enjoyment of, green spaces and paths in town…
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We fight new threat to Brent River Park, Ealing 

We have objected to an application from Ealing Council to erect a massive leisure-centre with residential development and other infrastructure in Brent River Park in Ealing.    The society is concerned that the development will take a bite out of the Brent River Park, destroying metropolitan open land (MOL) and public open space (POS).  It argues…
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An extract from Open Space Magazine: reflecting on forty years

In the latest edition of Open Space magazine, Kate Ashbrook reflects on 40 years in her post as the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society.   Forty years on When I joined the Open Spaces Society as its general secretary 40 years ago, our world was very different, says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary. We…
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