Budget for greenspace

13 Mar 2008 by Karl Hallam

Amongst other things the Budget was billed as a 'boost to housing' by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Secretary of State Hazel Blears said: 'I welcome this budget - it will help us support people's aspiration to own their own homes and ensure communities are built in a way that will protect the environment for future generations.'

The budget follows Natural England's announcement this week of their Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt) model, which says that no person should live more than 300m from their nearest area of natural greenspace of at least 2 ha in size.

Whether the new Housing and Communities Agency will take this on board when it aims to help councils build millions of new homes is an interesting question, based on some of Cadence's recent experience.

For example, the DCLG has since 2002 been very against national standards for open space, as detailed in Planning Policy Guidance 17. They feel standards should be determined by local need based on consultation, a process Cadence has been involved in with LandE with a number of councils. They have consequently rejected the National Playing Fields Association (now Fields in Trust, or FIT) 6 Acre Standard (Cadence has done some work on a review of the 6AS), which is a national uniform standard like the Natural England one announced this week. A consistent DCLG view would suggest that the amount of greenspace should be based on local need.

The ANGSt (surely that's a really unhelpful acronym) also says there should be at least one accessible 20ha site within 2km of home; that there should be one accessible 100ha site within 5km of home; and that there should be one accessible 500ha site within 10km of home. ANGSt also says sites should be 'accessible, without recourse to public rights of way, and without paying a fee', but seemingly makes no mention of mode of travel or accessibillty to, for example, disabled people.

However, the story behind the Natural England announcment is the first mapping and measurement of all the countryside in the south east which is open to the public, which is a big step forward, and hopefully precedes national mapping.


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