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?

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.

  • Funding boost for neighbourhood planning groups

    The government announced in August 2020 that they would increase the basic grant and the level of support available to planning groups in both urban and deprived areas.

  • 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 & 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.

  • 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.

  • By-laws for village greens, commons and open spaces

    By-laws are rules made by a local authority or certain other public bodies under an enabling Act of Parliament, for the regulation, administration or management of a specific area.

  • 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

Little comfort from updated planning policies

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published an updated version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). There are six main changes but we are disappointed that the revisions do not reflect the submission we made on the consultation. Says our case officer Nicola Hodgson: ‘We remain concerned that the government’s…
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Police on Wanstead Flats July 1871. Credit Essex Field Club

Saving ‘the People’s Forest’ – a forgotten anniversary

This is a year of anniversaries to celebrate in the contests over open spaces around London; 150 years ago, and after long local struggles in each case, legislation was passed preserving Hampstead Heath and Wandsworth Common from development, campaigns in which the Commons Preservation Society (CPS, and the forerunner of the Open Spaces Society) played…
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1871 poster

150 years ago today – the story of the Wanstead Flats landmark demonstration

150 years ago today, on 8th July 1871, thousands of people gathered in Epping Forest to mount a protest. A campaign was beginning – one that the renowned environmental historian Oliver Rackham has called “the origin of the modern British conservation movement.” This campaign, to preserve Epping Forest and other commons from unchecked housing development…
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Hampstead Heath in summer

Hampstead Heath’s milestone Act of Parliament

Today, 29 June, is the 150th anniversary of the Hampstead Heath Act 1871, which empowered the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) to purchase the Heath for the people.  Now the Heath belongs to the City of London Corporation and is managed for the benefit of the public. We are proud to have played a major…
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