[Diggers350] OSS: vital green spaces missing from levelling-up jigsaw - Open Spaces Society

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Feb 2 21:17:49 GMT 2022

>From: Kate Ashbrook <hq at oss.org.uk>
>Subject: News release: Vital piece missing from levelling-up jigsaw, 
>says Open Spaces Society
>Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2022 14:57:27 +0000
>The Open Spaces Society(1), Britain's national pressure-group for 
>green spaces, has criticised today's announcement on levelling up as 
>a missed chance to rectify the gross inequality of access to local spaces.
>The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 
>Michael Gove, has unveiled his 
>plan' without a mention of the importance of local green 
>spaces.  Yet these, which have always been important, proved to be 
>vital during the pandemic, for the public's mental and physical 
>health, and they have a crucial role in addressing the impact of the 
>climate crisis.
>The paper contains 12 national, levelling-up missions (policy 
>objectives) to be given legal status, with the aim of shifting 
>government focus and resources to forgotten communities.  All this 
>is to be achieved by 2030.  One aim is to improve wellbeing in every 
>area of the UK.  Another is to increase people's pride in place, 
>closing the gap between the top- and bottom-performing town centres 
>and local cultures.  It is unclear how these dramatic changes will be achieved.
>The society has long been concerned about the government's lack of 
>urgency in addressing inequality of green space.  In 2021, when the 
>government made amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework 
>(NPPF), the society highlighted the bungled opportunity to improve 
>and strengthen the process in the NPPF to designate land as a local 
>green space (LGS).  The society considers it vital that government 
>provides sufficient funding, and overhauls neighbourhood planning, 
>to ensure that LGS designation is made easier, with encouragement 
>for local people to get involved.
>The society also runs its 
><https://www.oss.org.uk/grant-a-green-campaign/>Grant a Green 
>campaign, in which it urges local councils voluntarily to 
>register(2) their green spaces as town or village greens, thus 
>protecting them from development and giving local people rights of 
>recreation there.
>Says Nicola Hodgson, case officer for the Open Spaces Society: 'The 
>government cannot seriously run a levelling-up programme while 
>neglecting the glaring inequality of access to local green 
>space.  It must invest in those areas where people cannot have ready 
>and safe access to a green space on their doorstep, and ensure that 
>such spaces are provided.
>'People must also be able to designate local spaces as LGS to secure 
>their protection, so that the multiple benefits they provide endure 
>for future generations.  The government has omitted a vital piece of 
>the levelling up jigsaw from its proposals.'
>Attached photo: Queen's Crescent Garden, designated as local green 
>space in the Exeter St James neighbourhood plan, Devon. Photo: Aylwyn Bowen.
>Notes for editors
>1          The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is 
>Britain's oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to 
>protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, 
>and people's right to enjoy them.  The society was instrumental in 
>saving Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common, Epping Forest and many 
>other London open spaces in the nineteenth century.
>2          Any landowner can dedicate land as a town or village 
>green, under section 15(8) of the Commons Act 2006.  Once the land 
>is dedicated, local people have rights of informal recreation there, 
>and the land is protected from encroachment and development for ever 
>more under section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of 
>the Commons Act 1876.
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