NDP Update – March 2021

Local Green Space

Hi everyone,

As the sun starts to warm the air and Spring finally arrives (hopefully!) we, are starting to turn our attention thinking about our Green spaces within the parish.

Are there local areas of green space in our Cold Ash Parish that are important to you?

If so, we’d love to hear from you on where these are because it may be possible to secure a ‘Local Green Space’ designation for them.

Great but what’s the background to this and is this even possible?

You may not know what a ‘Local Green Space’ designation is, so, let’s start there first and cover what it is and the rules we need to be aware of.

So, a Local Green Space designation, whats that?

Local Green Space designation is a way to provide special protection against development for green areas of particular importance to local communities. The designation can be sought via our Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Are there any rules for designation?

A Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is:

(a) in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;

(b) demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and

(c) local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

How big can a Local Green Space be?

There are no hard and fast rules about how big a Local Green Space can be nor is there a minimum size. However, Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green area concerned is not an extensive tract of land. Consequently, blanket designation of open countryside adjacent to settlements will not be appropriate. In particular, designation should not be proposed as a ‘back door’ way to try to achieve what would amount to a new area of Green Belt by another name.

Does the land need to be accessible to the public to gain designation?

The short answer is ‘no’. Some areas that may be considered for designation as Local Green Space may already have largely unrestricted public access. However, other land could be considered for designation even if there is no public access (eg green areas which are valued because of their wildlife, historic significance and/or beauty).

Does the land need to be in public ownership?

A Local Green Space does not need to be in public ownership. However, we, the Neighbourhood Development Plan team, will need to contact the landowners about proposals to designate any part of their land as Local Green Space. Landowners will have opportunities to make representations in respect of any proposals in the draft plan.

What about public rights of way?

There is no need to designate linear corridors as Local Green Space simply to protect rights of way, which are already protected under other legislation.

Would designation place any restrictions or obligations on landowners?

Designating a green area as Local Green Space would give it protection consistent with that in respect of Green Belt, but otherwise there are no new restrictions or obligations on landowners.

Who will manage Local Green Space?

Management of land designated as Local Green Space will remain the responsibility of its owner. If the features that make a green area special and locally significant are to be conserved, how it will be managed in the future is likely to be an important consideration. Local communities can consider how, with the landowner’s agreement, they might be able to get involved, perhaps in partnership with interested organisations that can provide advice or resources.

So, this could be great news!

But, as always, we can only look at possible Green Space sites with your help. If you’re interested in helping us identify those within the parish that are of special value to you, we’d love to hear from you.

Once we have this information, we’ll start the engagement process with landowners of those spaces that have received most nominations, with a view to progressing to designation. To be clear, not all spaces nominated will be suitable for designation and we need to work with the landowners on this. But this is a good first step towards protecting the special green space within the parish.

Please send your nominations, and any supporting comments covering why they’re special to you, to us via e mail at the NDP: coldashndp@gmail.com

Many Thanks in advance!!

Pete Murray

On Behalf of the Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group