Open Spaces Supplementary Planning Document

Chapter 1 Introduction


1.1 Access to well-planned and maintained open space, children's play areas and recreational facilities forms an important role in promoting sustainable communities. The Council attaches great importance to the provision of good quality open space in connection with new housing developments. Open space can provide a valuable formal and informal recreation facility for children and adults. It can also add character and interest to a housing development thus considerably enhancing its quality.

1.2 New development, both residential and commercial, can increase the demand for the use of open spaces and recreational facilities. It is important that it contributes to ensure existing spaces are enhanced and new spaces created consistent with demand.

1.3 It can provide opportunities for recreation, culture, informal and formal sport, natural environments for wildlife and even storm water management.

1.4 Development plays an important role in any sustainable locality. Whether it is the provision of new homes, employment or recreational facilities, development is essential to provide for our current and future needs. However, development comes with its pressures on the environment, community and general amenity.

1.5 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)[1] defines open space as:

All open space of public value, including not just land, but also areas of water (such as rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs) which offer important opportunities for sport and recreation and can act as a visual amenity.

1.6 Green space is a subset of open space which includes vegetated land or water within an urban area such as parks and public gardens, playing fields, children's play areas, nature reserves, woods and other natural areas, grassed areas, cemeteries and allotments along with green corridors like paths, disused railway lines, rivers and canals. The formal definition of Green Space does not include agricultural land, private gardens or civic spaces that are part of the built landscape.

1.7 For the purposes of this document we use the term 'Open Space' to ensure that this includes the public realm and civic spaces which can all play a vital role in the way in which a sustainable community operates.

1.8 The Council expects all qualifying developments to provide open space on-site and only in exceptional circumstances will off-site provision or contributions be considered. The types of development that will qualify for contributions towards the provision or enhancement of open spaces are all developments of 10 dwellings or more or those which exceed 1ha in gross site area.

1.9 Green and open spaces within a development should connect to each other so that the entire development can be traversed seamlessly via green routes by pedestrians and cyclists. Where there are opportunities to link to the wider green infrastructure network, developments should be designed to maximise connections as this helps create better connected communities as well as corridors for wildlife and a more pleasant environment overall. More detail is provided in chapter 4.

Benefits of Green and Open Spaces

1.10 Green and open spaces provide multi-functional places which have significant health, environmental, economic and social benefits for those who live, work and enjoy the recreational facilities within the city and the surrounding area.

1.11 Professor Sir Michael Marmot's 2010 report Fair Society, Healthy Lives (The Marmot Review) identified a 'social gradient' in health. This means that those living in the most deprived neighbourhoods die earlier and spend more time in ill health than those living in the least deprived neighbourhoods.

1.12 In April 2013, responsibilities for public health were transferred to local government providing the Council with an opportunity to broaden its ownership of the health inequalities agenda. The Council committed to delivering rapid change in health inequalities and was one of seven cities in the UK invited to participate in the UK Marmot Network and become a Marmot City.

1.13 The Marmot Review identified that reducing health inequalities requires creating and developing healthy and sustainable places and communities which is also identified in the NPPF through its presumption in favour of sustainable development.

1.14 One of these is to prioritise policies and interventions that both reduce health inequalities and mitigate climate change by improving good quality open and green spaces.

1.15 These benefits of green and open spaces include:

  • Improved mental and physical health through exercise.
  • Establishing community and social inclusion by providing areas for sport, recreation and play.
  • Assisting with tackling community safety issues.
  • Providing wildlife habitats and encouraging biodiversity.
  • Promoting lifelong education and learning.
  • Alleviation of flood risks. Instilling unique character to areas and providing local identities.
  • Encouraging ongoing revenue streams through tourism
  • Attracting local investment to the area.

Purpose of this SPD

1.16 This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) supplements Policy GE1 of the adopted Local Plan, which states that: "New development proposals should make provision for green infrastructure to ensure that such development is integrated into the landscape and contributes to improvements in connectivity and public access, biodiversity, landscape conservation, design, archaeology and recreation."

1.17 This document provides guidance on how the policies of the Local Plan will be applied when proposals are made for new housing development in terms of the following:-

  • What open spaces should be provided in association with new housing development;
  • Where they should be located;
  • What purpose they should fulfil; and
  • What arrangements should be made where the requirement is for off-site provision or improvement / upgrading of existing facilities.

1.18 Through discussion and negotiation, the Council will aim to ensure that new provision /improvements are the most appropriate solution for a particular area and that facilities will be utilised to their full potential

1. [back]