Britain’s oldest national conservation organisation has launched a campaign to help save England’s green spaces. The Open Spaces Society claims there is a lack of new local green spaces, and this has led to an unbalanced approach to protection of open land.
The Coalition Government’s Growth and Infrastructure Act made it impossible to apply to have land declared a village green if development was planned on it. The setting up of local green spaces should have seen a growth in applications to have new open areas registered.
The OSS has written to all the English local planning authorities, calling on them to be proactive in designating land as local green space through neighbourhood plans.
The society has also produced three handbooks: How to win local green space through neighbourhood plans, Community assets and protecting open space, and Local green space designation, designed to help communities protect and preserver their open land.
Nicola Hodgson, the society’s case officer, said: “The national planning policy framework has been in place for three years, with its opportunity to designate land as local green space. Yet only a few have been designated.
“Moreover, it has for four years been possible to list open spaces as community assets, but few have been registered. The society wants to make it easier for communities to rescue their threatened open spaces.
She said the local green space designation was intended to mitigate the ‘draconian’ Act, which prohibits an application for registration as a village green on land that has entered the planning system. “But we haven’t seen this mitigation; the law has stopped many legitimate applications for greens without giving us any local green spaces in return,” Ms Hodgson said.
“We are concerned that the national planning policy guidance gives inadequate advice on the designation of local green space. The definitions of what might constitute local green space are vague. The public is left in the air, without any clear guidance on how to proceed.
“We want the authorities to be proactive in helping communities identify and designate LGS in the neighbourhood planning process, and we want them to look sympathetically at all applications for LGS. Our letter urges them to do this and tells them about our guidance.”
Find out more at www.oss.org.uk/