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16. Urban Open Spaces

16.1 Urban open space is important in providing a range of different uses and functions for the community and also to enhance biodiversity. This can include play areas, amenity spaces, outdoor sporting fields, County Wildlife Sites, Local Nature Reserves and private sporting facilities. This chapter outlines the identification and analysis of urban open space.

16.2 Policy CP22 of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan protects existing green infrastructure from development.

16.3 The review looked at all open spaces within the urban area and a number of new wildlife corridors and linkages were identified. These areas are seen to be part of the wider open space network, so the saved local plan Policies NE7 (Wildlife Corridors) and NE17 (Open Spaces) have been reviewed and replaced in one new Policy AD43.

16.4 All open spaces in the urban area have been reviewed and the sites assessed for their suitability for designation as urban open space. The following types of space are designated as urban open space:

  1. Equipped play areas for children or teenagers.
  2. Outdoor playing fields or outdoor sports facilities for public use.
  3. A park, garden or open space providing an amenity use for the surrounding area.
  4. An allotment, community garden or cemetery/churchyard.
  5. A Local Nature Reserve or County Wildlife Site.
  6. Landscaped open space that contributes to the streetscape or character of the area.
  7. Spaces that serve as a buffer between different land uses.
  8. Spaces that are important in providing a green break in the built up area e.g. school playing fields or private sports fields.
  9. Spaces that provide a visual break to safeguard local distinctiveness and may include aesthetically pleasing views.
  10. In addition to the above sites, the assessment also considered and defined the network of linear linkages throughout the urban area that act as green corridors. This network is made up of strips of amenity land, cycle and pedestrian walkways, drainage channels, highway verges and hedgerows.

16.5 Further detail is contained in the background papers ‘Review of Urban Open Space in Bedford’ and ‘Urban Area Boundary Review’.

16.6 It is recognised that the settlements of Biddenham and Elstow, within the urban area boundary, do have special characteristics which set them apart from the adjoining urban development and which should be maintained. In order to prevent uncontrolled development which might harm the special character and setting of these two historic settlements, urban open space has been designated around Biddenham and Elstow. Additionally, Policy AD43 designates local gaps which are important in maintaining settlement character and these are shown on the Policies Map.

Policy AD43 Urban Open Spaces and Gaps

Open areas which have particular importance in maintaining the function, character and identity of the urban area are identified on the Policies Map as urban open spaces. These include:

  1. Equipped play areas, playing fields and other sports facilities.
  2. Parks, gardens or other amenity space.
  3. Allotments/community garden space and cemeteries/churchyards.
  4. Local Nature Reserves, County Wildlife Sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  5. Landscaping that contributes to streetscape or character of an area.
  6. Buffers between different land uses.
  7. Green breaks in an otherwise built up area.
  8. Visual breaks to safeguard local distinctiveness including views (particular areas of importance around Elstow and Biddenham have been identified as gaps).
  9. Parts of the overall network of green spaces and links.

Development will not be permitted on land designated as urban open space and gaps unless it can be demonstrated that the reasons for designation are not compromised or that other material considerations outweigh the need to retain the urban open space and gaps undeveloped.

The Council will seek in association with new development, the provision of new and/or the enhancement of existing open space.

Urban Open Spaces

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