New research on Local Green Spaces, and a call for greater take-up in Herts
New CPRE research has found that a total of 6,515 Local Green Spaces have been designated in the decade since their introduction. Disappointingly, only 77 of these are in Hertfordshire.
The majority of designated Local Green Spaces are not open countryside, but the small, undeveloped patches that provide people with a daily dose of nature, close to where they live. That’s why CPRE has conducted the first ever study of the impact of the Local Green Space designation, which allows local people to protect places of special value to their community.
What are Local Green Spaces?
‘Local Green Space’ is a formal land designation first introduced in the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012. The Local Green Space designation affords the same protection from unwarranted and inappropriate development as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Belts, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This makes the Local Green Space designation a powerful tool in land use planning.
Local Green Spaces must be designated through the Local Plan process. The Local Green Space designation may be used for small parcels of land, close to where people live, that are demonstrably special to their community. This could be for reasons of their beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity, or richness of wildlife.
In practice, Local Green Spaces might also be community gardens or orchards, fields popular with dog walkers, recreation grounds, and other types of locally valued green spaces.
We estimate that over 80% of Local Green Spaces have been designated partly for their recreational value, highlighting their importance for people seeking the outdoor exercise that is so vital to our health and wellbeing. Meanwhile, the richness of their wildlife was a factor in over a third of the designations, suggesting that Local Green Spaces can play a major role in reviving the UK’s biodiversity.
How can local Hertfordshire people get their valued local green spaces designated?
In recognition of the importance of Local Green Spaces to communities all over Hertfordshire, we’re calling on our ten Local Authorities to include a formal policy on Local Green Spaces in their Local Plans. Hertfordshire currently has fewer designated Local Green Spaces than two thirds of other Local Authorities across England, so we know there is considerable scope for greater take-up.
In particular, there is an excellent opportunity for achieving Local Green Space designations in those districts where another Regulation 18 Local Plan consultation is likely: Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, and Three Rivers. Districts that are due to review their adopted Local Plan, such as East Herts in 2023, should also include new Local Green Space designations as part of the review process.
We encourage local people to contact their Parish or Town Councillors as well as District Councillors to campaign for the inclusion of Local Green Spaces in draft and emerging Local Plans (or in Neighbourhood Plans where these are in preparation).
For example, we’re aware of one town in the west of Hertfordshire where campaigners are currently trying to prevent the loss of the town’s longstanding and well-utilised football field for new housing. This football field should be designated as a Local Green Space which would then afford it the protection it needs.
For more information on CPRE’s research, take a look at the full report.
Help us promote Local Green Spaces
We’ve had considerable recent success in persuading elected representatives to uphold the countryside protections enshrined in planning law. But becoming a CPRE member from as little as £3 per month, or giving a regular or one-off donation, will help us push for the promotion of Local Green Spaces that can bring nature closer to everyone, and protect it for future generations.