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7. Green Infrastructure

7.1 Green infrastructure is a relatively new concept. Natural England, the Government’s advisor on the natural environment, has developed the following definition.

7.2 “Green infrastructure is a strategically planned and delivered network comprising the broadest range of high quality green space and other environmental features. It should be designed and managed as a multi-functional resource capable of delivering those ecological services and quality of life benefits required by the community it serves and needed to underpin sustainability. Its design and management should also respect and enhance the character and distinctiveness of an area with regard to habitats and landscape types.

7.3 Green infrastructure includes established green spaces and new sites and should thread through and surround the built environment and connect the urban area to its wider rural hinterland. Consequently it needs to be delivered at all spatial scales from sub-regional to local neighbourhood levels, accommodating both accessible natural green spaces within local communities and often much larger sites in the urban fringe and wider countryside.”

7.4 In 2004 and in response to the announcement of the then Government’s growth agenda, the Bedfordshire and Luton Green Infrastructure Consortium was formed. It represents a range of professionals with a common interest in green infrastructure issues and its initial focus was to ensure that, as an essential element of overall infrastructure, green infrastructure was at the heart of both the emerging Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub Regional Strategy and the East of England Plan.

7.5 As well as influencing the content of higher level strategies, the Consortium was responsible for producing the Bedfordshire and Luton Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan published in 2007. Based on the historic county boundary, this plan looks at green infrastructure issues at a fairly broad scale, identifying opportunities for the protection and enhancement of green infrastructure at the former county level. One of its strengths is that it crosses local authority boundaries and looks at links beyond Bedfordshire, giving a broad context within which more detailed plans can be produced. The process of producing the countywide plan also developed and tested the methodology for preparing green infrastructure plans which has assisted the preparation of more detailed local documents based on smaller local authority areas. Of particular importance, the countywide Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan identifies the five key themes of green infrastructure to be:


  • Landscape
  • Historic environment
  • Biodiversity
  • Accessible green space
  • Access routes.

7.6 Three local green infrastructure plans now sit beneath the Bedfordshire and Luton Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan; Luton and South Bedfordshire, the former Mid Bedfordshire District Council and Bedford Borough Council have each developed a green infrastructure plan based on their administrative area to inform their development plans.

7.7 Policy CP22 of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan supports the protection and creation of green infrastructure assets including circumstances where open space is required in association with new developments. It relies on the Council’s Green Space Strategy to identify particular priorities for green infrastructure provision and enhancement because at the time the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan was being prepared, neither the county-wide or borough-wide green infrastructure plans were complete. In accordance with paragraph 4.88 of the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan, the Bedford Borough Green Infrastructure Plan now provides detail in addition to the Green Space Strategy that will be important in the implementation of this policy. The identification of Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones allows the five green infrastructure themes to be brought together in Bedford’s Development Plan.

7.8 Green infrastructure assets within Bedford Borough range in nature, scale and strategic importance. The borough includes parts of two projects previously identified in the regional plan as being of regional significance, these being the Forest of Marston Vale and the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park. The Council recognises the strategic importance of these two initiatives and is committed to supporting the delivery of both.

7.9 Whilst the borough-wide green infrastructure mapping exercise picks up the more strategic open space corridors within the urban area (e.g. the river corridor), the urban open space designation provides a finer grain of detail to the open space mapping within the urban area boundary. A review of urban open spaces has resulted in more accurate mapping of the network as a whole (see Chapter 16). Similarly within a village context, the finer grain of detail is seen through the designation of Village Open Spaces (see Chapter 14).

7.10 The Bedford Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study (2007) audited a broad range of open space provision within the borough in line with Government guidance at the time which was Planning Policy Statement 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation. One of the purposes of the study was to propose local standards based on local evidence. The Allocations and Designations Local Plan is the first opportunity to incorporate the new local standards into policy to guide the provision of open space in association with new development in accordance with Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan Policy CP22.

Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones

7.11 The process of preparing the Bedford Borough Green Infrastructure Plan has provided the opportunity to bring together and interpret the detailed information held in the plans and strategies that already address the five key themes identified above. The Biodiversity Action Plan, Historic Environment Record, Bedford Borough Landscape Character Assessment, Bedford Borough Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study, Bedford Borough Green Space Strategy, Bedford Green Wheel and the Outdoor Access Improvement Plan are all existing Council plans and strategies that have informed the five theme chapters in the Bedford Borough Green Infrastructure Plan. By using Geographic Information System to overlay the mapping output for each theme, it has been possible to look at ‘multi-functionality’ and identify ‘hot-spots’ where there are significant opportunities for the enhancement, creation and/or protection of green infrastructure assets.

7.12 As a result of the overlay process, the Plan identifies six network areas or ‘zones’ in the borough. These are set out below accompanied by bullet points listing opportunities for enhancement, creation and/or protection of green infrastructure in that particular zone.

7.13 The six opportunity zones are shown on the Policies Map. The following figure shows the general boundaries and location of the six zones.

Figure 5:
Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones

Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones

Policy AD24 Green Infrastructure Opportunity Zones

The green infrastructure network is divided into six opportunity zones as shown on the Policies Map.

The opportunity zones reflect those areas in the borough where there is the greatest potential to maintain and enhance the multi-functional nature of green infrastructure across the five themes of landscape, historic environment, biodiversity, accessible green space and access routes.

Where appropriate, development will deliver or contribute to the protection, enhancement and/or creation of green infrastructure in accordance with the priorities set out for each opportunity zone.


7.14 The Council’s priorities for the six Opportunity Zones are:

Zone 1 Milton Keynes to Grafham – Wooded Wolds


  • Linking woodlands with access routes and centres of population, particularly enhancing the strategic Three Shires Bridleway and Forty Foot Lane.
  • Expanding and linking of woodland (especially ancient woodland) and grassland habitats.
  • Improved management and restoration of existing ancient woodlands.
  • Hedgerow planting and management to re-establish the historic field pattern and enhance rights of way.
  • Interpreting historic environment features.
  • Conserving historic parkland.
  • Improving the management of the historic byway network (‘green lanes’) balancing access and recreational use with historic and natural heritage conservation and enhancement needs.

Zone 2 Upper Great Ouse River Valley


  • Access improvements through the north west section of the Bedford Green Wheel project, including new river crossings and links with parks, nature reserves, countryside attractions and housing developments, to create a green access corridor around Bedford and into the town centre. The Green Wheel project as a whole will create a network of traffic free paths and quiet routes for cyclists, walkers and riders (where feasible) around Bedford. This network will run around Bedford, and include ‘spokes’ linking into the town centre. The network will link parks, nature reserves, countryside and homes.
  • Extending the current green wheel proposals to link Bedford to surrounding villages through a network of green corridors.
  • Creating a ‘hub’ of attractive greenspaces where the planned Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway joins the River Great Ouse at Kempston.
  • Improving the River Great Ouse corridor through Bedford town centre, creating an attractive and biodiverse waterside and improving facilities for waterway users.
  • Improving walking, cycling and horse riding opportunities upstream from Bedford, including the Ouse Valley Way, Bunyan Trail, and links to and from the western section of the Bedford Green Wheel.
  • Extending Harrold – Odell Country Park to the south of the river, linking into Chellington.
  • Recreating river valley flood meadows and wet woodland, restoring wetlands and grassland for biodiversity benefit and flood alleviation.
  • Buffering and extending green spaces in the river valley, such as Harrold - Odell Country Park, Felmersham Pits and Bromham Lake Nature Reserve.
  • Improving green spaces and visitor facilities on the urban fringe, including enhancements at Bromham Mill, which has the potential for improvement as a visitor / education facility, and enhancements to the landscape around Oakley and Clapham.
  • Conserving historic parkland at Turvey House, Turvey Park and Bromham Park, including interpretation where access is possible.

Zone 3 Lower Great Ouse River Valley


  • Creating Bedford River Valley Park, a very significant 3.5 square mile area of new country park including floodplain forest, woodlands, meadows, formal areas, and space for water recreation, linking the town centre to the countryside at Willington through the river corridor.
  • Improving the River Great Ouse corridor through Bedford town centre, creating an attractive and biodiverse waterside and improving facilities for waterway users.
  • Creating and improving green access routes, including the eastern section of the Bedford Green Wheel project, Sustrans Route 51 and the Ouse Valley Way.
  • Recreating waterside meadows, pasture and wet woodland along the river corridor, planting riverside trees, and developing wetland habitats associated with the river and the aggregate extraction sites in the river valley.
  • Zoning the lakes created by gravel extraction to meet a range of needs including biodiversity, active recreation, and quiet, tranquil landscapes.
  • Enhancing existing assets including Priory Country Park, Danish Camp, and Willington stables and dovecote.
  • Conserving parkland at Roxton and Little Barford.
  • Enhancing the landscape around major transport corridors, particularly the A421, A1 and A603, to mitigate landscape and noise impact, create a green corridor for biodiversity, and enhance local distinctiveness.

Zone 4 Bedford to Milton Keynes – Marston Vale


  • The Forest of Marston Vale is a key green infrastructure project for the area. It is a community forest project with the aim of increasing woodland cover of the Vale to 30%. At a local scale, this will involve linking and extending existing woodland sites.
  • Extending the ‘Green Gateway’ concept will increase woodland cover and provide green space for new and existing communities and buffer new development.
  • Creating the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway. This is another strategic green infrastructure project. This will complete a missing link in the waterway network by linking the Grand Union Canal to the River Great Ouse. The route runs through the Marston Vale, and the section between Stewartby and the junction with the River Great Ouse at Kempston is part of this network area. The opportunity involves creating the waterway, and also a green corridor that includes access routes and links to adjacent green spaces.
  • Using the Elstow Brook to link the wetlands in the brick pit area of the Marston Vale and those in the Ouse Valley at Willington, and using the Elstow Brook area as a green corridor for flood alleviation, recreation and biodiversity, and conserving and enhancing the pastoral waterside landscape.
  • Improving access routes, including the south west section of the Bedford Green Wheel, Sustrans Route 51, Clay Way and Bunyan Trail.
  • Buffering and extending ancient woodlands on the edge of the clay vale.
  • Mitigating the negative impacts of the highway network to improve tranquillity, reduce visual impact, create green corridors for biodiversity and enhance local distinctiveness, particularly though creating a green corridor south of the bypass, incorporating the borrow pit lakes, and linking Kempston to the Wixams.
  • Improving the landscape and access around brickpit and borrow pit lakes.
  • Creating new ponds and associated habitats.
  • Reinstating hedgerows and hedgerow trees.
  • Securing links between Berry Farm Wood and Wootton (including new development areas).

Zone 5 Greensand Ridge Fringes


  • Linking and extending woodland sites to each other and down the ridge slopes to strengthen the wooded fringe landscape character.
  • Managing ancient woodlands, veteran trees, biologically significant trees and historic hedgerows and interpreting historic environment features associated with ancient woodlands.
  • Linking ancient woodlands together, and creating a complex of grassland, scrub and woodland habitats.
  • Creating green corridors and enhancing access routes, particularly creating woodlands and meadow features along the Bunyan Trail, enhancing the setting of archaeological features, and creating a corridor between the Bedford River Valley Park and the eastern end of the Greensand Ridge.
  • Improving attractive, safe access links for walkers and cyclists between Bedford and the strategic visitor attractions of the Greensand Ridge, including Moggerhanger Park, Rowney Warren and Maulden Wood.

Zone 6 Bedford Northern Fringes


  • Delivering the north west section of the Bedford Green Wheel project to create a green access route around and into the town.
  • Creating new accessible woodland linking Clapham Park Wood, Mowsbury Park, Putnoe Wood and Renhold Brook.
  • Conserving existing historic parkland and improving interpretation, particularly around Renhold, Clapham Park Wood and Howbury Park.
  • Enhancing the existing public open spaces, and improving the interpretation of historic environment features such as the hillfort and moat on Mowsbury Hill, a scheduled monument.
  • Creating walking, cycling and horse riding routes linking villages to the north of Bedford with the northern section of the Bedford Green Wheel.
  • Managing and enhancing ancient woodlands and hedgerows, and linking habitats through adjacent green spaces associated with schools and sports fields.

Forest of Marston Vale

7.15 The Forest of Marston Vale area is designated on the Policies Map and its general location can be seen in Figure 6 below. It is one of the 12 Community Forests in England designated by Government as part of a national programme to regenerate degraded landscapes near large urban populations through tree planting. It was established in 1991 to use trees and woodlands to transform 61 square miles (approximately 16,000 hectares) between Bedford and Milton Keynes, repairing a landscape scarred by decades of clay extraction, brickmaking and landfill. Working with local communities, government and businesses, the 40-year vision is to deliver environmental regeneration that brings forward social and economic regeneration of the area, whilst providing major landscape, recreation, biodiversity, and quality of life benefits.

7.16 The primary aim, set by government in 1991, is to increase woodland cover from 3% to 30% by 2031, requiring the planting of around 4,000 hectares of new woodland. Approximately 50% of the Forest of Marston Vale area lies within Bedford borough, suggesting that 2,000 hectares of new woodland needs to be planted in the borough by 2031.

7.17 Through delivering this major increase in woodland cover and landscape change, a wide range of associated benefits and objectives will be delivered. The new well-wooded landscape will transform perceptions of the once-degraded area, encouraging inward investment and economic prosperity, providing an attractive location in which to live and work and a revitalised area which local communities can be proud of having helped to create through extensive community engagement. Recreation and leisure opportunities will be increased through the creation of new accessible woodlands, other green infrastructure and access routes. Increased woodland cover will help mitigate the impacts of climate change by providing a local, sustainable source of biomass for use as fuel, as well as through carbon sequestration by the many millions of trees planted. With around 4,000 hectares of new woodland, plus other environmental improvements, the area will deliver significant biodiversity benefits, creating a landscape richer in wildlife, as well as this new well-wooded landscape stimulating the development of a woodland economy and associated job creation.

7.18 The creation of the Forest of Marston Vale is guided by the Forest Plan, a non-statutory plan produced through very extensive consultation. The Forest Plan is the key reference for creating the Forest of Marston Vale, setting out the vision, objectives and broad proposals for the 61 square mile area.

7.19 As one of England’s 12 Community Forests, the Forest of Marston Vale has long received national and regional policy support in recognition of the long term strategic nature of the initiative and its potential to create new woodland on a strategic scale. The National Planning Policy Framework now provides specific support for Community Forests such as the Forest of Marston Vale, noting that Forest Plans may be a material consideration in preparing development plans and in deciding planning applications.

7.20 The Forest of Marston Vale was established and originally administered by a partnership between Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire County Council, Mid Bedfordshire District Council, the Forestry Commission and the Countryside Agency. In 1997, the partners created The Marston Vale Trust as the vehicle to take forward the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale by 2031. The Marston Vale Trust is the independent registered charity dedicated to the environmental regeneration and delivery of green infrastructure throughout the Marston Vale, in accordance with the Forest Plan.

7.21 The Council acknowledges the national support for Community Forests and is committed to the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale as the mechanism for the environmental regeneration of the Marston Vale. In accordance with this the Borough Council will continue to support the delivery of the Forest Plan including delivery of the primary aim of achieving 30% woodland cover target by 2031.


Policy AD25 Forest of Marston Vale

In appropriate circumstances (and within the area designated on the Policies Map) the Council will expect proposals to address the aims of the project as set out in the Forest Plan 2000 and seek contributions towards its implementation, including the 30% woodland cover target.


Figure 6:
Location of Forest of Marston Vale and Bedford River Valley Park

Location of Forest of Marston Vale and Bedford River Valley Park

Bedford River Valley Park

7.22 Bedford River Valley Park is designated on the Policies Map. It lies to the east of Bedford, with approximately half of the designation within the wider Forest of Marston Vale designation. It encompasses the existing Priory Country Park.

7.23 The Park will be of a regional scale (over 800ha) and is specifically identified in both the Bedfordshire and Luton Strategic Green Infrastructure Plan and the Council’s Green Space Strategy as a key new area of multi-functional green space to serve the recreational needs of an expanding population.

7.24 Contributions towards the Forest that arise as a result of development in that part of the Bedford River Valley Park designation which also lies in the Forest of Marston Vale designation will focus on the delivery of the park, including tree planting, habitat creation, access improvements and a heritage access management and interpretation strategy.

7.25 In 2006/7 the Marston Vale Trust engaged a team of consultants to explore the range and mix of land uses, environmental improvements and leisure/recreational activities that the River Valley Park might include. The study was funded by the Government’s Growth Area Fund and involved extensive public and stakeholder consultation. The resulting ‘Framework for the Bedford River Valley Park’ document was published in March 2008 and was endorsed by Government, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Forestry Commission, The Marston Vale Trust, Lafarge Aggregates and Anglian Water, amongst others. The vision for the Park is illustrated in the accompanying Framework Plan which can be found at Figure 7 below.

Figure 7:
Bedford River Valley Park Framework Plan

Bedford River Valley Park Framework Plan

7.26 The Framework provides a vision of how the Bedford River Valley Park will look as it is created over the next decade and beyond. Around 240ha at the heart of the Park is proposed for conversion to ‘floodplain forest’, a mosaic of woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, within which networks of access routes will provide for quiet recreation. This large area of new ‘floodplain forest’ will become one of the largest in England and of potentially high ecological importance. As well as benefitting wildlife, it can be used to help mitigate the impacts of climate change through being used intelligently to help reduce flood risk and producing woody biomass as a renewable fuel to replace the use of fossil fuels.

7.27 The creation of Bedford River Valley Park will provide a major new area of multi-functional greenspace on the urban fringe of Bedford to serve the recreational needs of an expanding population. The proposed 2.3km Watersports Lake is a major potential asset within the Park and will deliver regionally important facilities for sport and recreation, whilst the existing, well used Sustrans Route 51 cycleway is a key asset to which additional access routes within the Park will connect. The Park will provide a wide range and mix of activities with its relatively large size and careful zoning allowing the solitary, quiet and informal to coexist with the energetic, sometimes noisy and gregarious.

7.28 Both Priory Country Park and the wider Forest of Marston Vale are identified in this Plan as key leisure/tourism sites (see Chapter 10).

7.29 Past, current and future mineral extraction to the east of Bedford has provided the opportunity to create a new landscape of the nature and scale envisaged in the Framework for the Bedford River Valley Park. The ongoing creation of the Park will play a key role in transforming the image and profile of the Bedford area, creating an attractive, high quality natural setting and location that supports wider regeneration objectives. In creating this new landscape it is important to acknowledge, conserve and enhance existing landscape, archaeological, heritage and ecological value wherever possible, harnessing opportunities to expand on it as part of the creation of the Park.

7.30 The area of land encompassed by Bedford River Valley Park is of high archaeological significance. Crop-marks, subsequent field evaluation and excavation over several decades have provided evidence of extensive Neolithic and Bronze Age ritual monuments, which are surviving components of an important, early prehistoric funerary and ceremonial landscape overlain by later Iron Age and Roman settlement. In the 1990’s, the majority of the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites were designated as scheduled monuments, underlining their national importance. They provide a rare insight into the ritual practices during these times, forming a readable prehistoric landscape captured within the Park area.

7.31 As such the creation of the Bedford River Valley Park should seek to preserve this monumental archaeology and ensure that its setting and landscape context is enhanced and interpreted for the benefit of the wider public. In order to achieve this, a comprehensive heritage access, management and interpretation strategy for the Bedford River Valley Park archaeological landscape will be required in order to address the following issues.


  • Sustainable long-term management and enhancement of heritage assets, their setting and landscape context.
  • Public access.
  • On-site and off-site interpretation.
  • Raising public awareness and interest and promotion of the educational and cultural value of the archaeological landscape as a whole.

Policy AD26 Bedford River Valley Park

The Council will seek the creation of the Bedford River Valley Park as an area where opportunities exist for landscape enhancement, nature conservation, recreation, access improvements, increased public access and the preservation and enhancement of the historic environment in accordance with the Framework for the River Valley Park. When development opportunities arise within the area shown on the Policies Map, development will be expected to contribute towards the creation and delivery of the Bedford River Valley Park.


Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park

7.32 The Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park will be a new 20 mile (32km) waterway providing a green corridor through the Marston Vale, linking communities and creating a unique sense of identity and place. It will serve local people and enhance the local environment whilst having the more strategic benefit of connecting the Fenland waterways to the east with the main canal network via the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes.

7.33 The creation of the Waterway Park is supported in the Core Strategy and Rural Issues Plan Policy CP22 and the anticipated alignment is shown on the Policies Map. The route is shown as a dashed line to reflect the fact that it is indicative only at this stage and the precise route detail may change as a result of the detailed design process.

7.34 Employment development at the Marston Vale Innovation Park (Policy AD13) and Bell Farm (Policy AD12) will incorporate stretches of the Waterway Park, providing the opportunity to deliver high quality waterside buildings.


Policy AD27 Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park

The Council will support the creation of the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway Park as a strategic green infrastructure link benefitting the borough as a whole, but particularly important to the delivery of sustainable growth in the Northern Marston Vale.

The indicative route of the Waterway Park is shown on the Policies Map. Where appropriate, development will be expected to contribute towards the creation and delivery of the Waterway Park.

Pre-determination archaeological evaluation is required.


7.35 Pre-determination archaeological evaluation work is required due to potentially significant archaeological remains.

Open Space Standards

7.36 As explained above, one of the purposes of the Bedford Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study was to establish local standards for the provision of open space. The following new local standards do not raise the quantitative requirement for open space when compared against the Bedford Borough Local Plan 2002 standards, however the new standards cover a wider range of open space types and include accessibility criteria.

7.37 Not all housing developments will create a need for all types of open space. For example, elderly person’s accommodation will not normally generate a need for equipped children’s play. Each development will be considered on its merits.

7.38 Open space will also be required in association with other types of development (employment, community facilities etc). The type and amount will be guided by site specific circumstances.

7.39 The Bedford Open Space, Sports and Recreation Study recommends that the Council makes clear its requirements regarding quality standards for open space and built facilities in a Supplementary Planning Document. This document will set out how Policy AD28 will be applied including eligibility of developments to provide different types of open space, thresholds for on-site provision and financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision. It will also outline how the financial contributions are to be spent and details of commuted sums for management and maintenance. Design principles for open space will also be included. Ways of seeking contributions from developers towards infrastructure provision are under review generally in the context of the Community Infrastructure Levy (see Chapter 11 Infrastructure and Transport). The Council has adopted a Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document and expects to adopt a Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule in 2014.

7.40 Expressing the following standards per 1000 people makes the policy easier to apply over a range of housing densities.


Policy AD28 Provision of Open Space and Built Facilities in Association
with New Development

Where new housing development is of a type likely to create a demand, the Council will require provision of open space and built facilities in accordance with the standards in the following table.

Where possible, provision should be made on-site. Where this is not possible, practical or preferred, a financial contribution in lieu of on-site provision will be required. Such contributions will be secured through planning obligations and will fund improvements to existing facilities or will be pooled to provide new facilities. Provision should include a contribution towards the cost of future management and maintenance.



Open Space Standards
Type Amount Accessibility
Parks & Gardens 0.5ha per 1000 people 15 mins walk
1000m straight line distance
Accessible Natural Green Space 0.5ha per 1000 people 5 mins walk
300m straight line distance
Equipped/Natural Play Areas 0.25ha per 1000 people Pre-teens (up to 12 years)
5 mins walk
300m straight line distance Young people (13-16/17)
15 mins walk
1000m straight line distance
Informal & Amenity Green Space 0.5ha per 1000 people 1-2 mins walk
100m straight line distance
Outdoor Sports Space
Synthetic Turf Pitches
Grass Pitches
Bowls/tennis
Total

0.052ha per 1000 people
1.016ha per 1000 people
0.052ha per 1000 people
1.12ha per 1000 people

No more than 20 mins travel
No more than 15 mins travel
No more than 15 mins travel
Allotments 0.35ha per 1000 people 15mins walk
1000m straight line distance
Total outdoor open space 3.22ha per 1000 people  

Built Facilities Standards
Type Amount Accessibility
Sports Halls 15.6sqm per 1000 people No more than 20 mins travel
Swimming Pools 6.2sqm water space per 1000 people No more than 20 mins travel
Total built facilities 21.8sqm per 1000 people  

Refer to the Open Space SPD for updated occupancy figures from the 2011 Census figures.

Definitions

7.41 Occupancy – For the purpose of calculating open space requirements, the following occupancy levels will be used.


  • 1 bed 1.3 persons
  • 2 bed 1.9 persons
  • 3 bed 2.6 persons
  • 4 bed 3.2 persons
  • 5+ bed 3.7 persons

(Source: DCLG Survey of English Housing 2002/03 & 2005/06)

7.42 Parks and Gardens – includes urban parks, formal gardens and country parks that provide accessible and high quality opportunities for informal recreation and community events.

7.43 Accessible Natural Green Space – covers a variety of spaces including meadows, river floodplain, woodland, copse all of which share a trait of being managed primarily for wildlife value but which are also open to public use and enjoyment.

7.44 Equipped/Natural Play Areas – equipped areas that cater for the needs of children up to and around 12 years and recreation opportunities for teenagers aged 13-16/17 e.g. skateboard parks, basketball courts, multi use games and kick about areas. Increasingly formal play areas are including elements of natural play though parks and gardens and other natural green space will also provide such opportunities.

7.45 The amount of equipped/natural play required will be calculated pro-rata based on the standard in the table. The decision whether to focus on new space to serve children under 12 years or young people over 12 will depend on existing local circumstances and existing levels and quality of provision. The pro-rata requirement may be split between the two age groups or focus on one only.

7.46 The pro-rata space requirement for children’s and young people’s equipped/natural play will provide the activity area only. Buffer areas may be made up of amenity or other appropriate types of open space and may include non open space land (e.g. parking areas or footpaths).

7.47 Under 12s – to serve the 12 and under age group, activity areas should be a minimum size of 200sqm and the separation distance between the edge of the activity area and the curtilage of the nearest dwelling should be a minimum of 20m in order to limit disturbance.

7.48 Where the pro-rata requirement amounts to 200sqm or above (i.e. the minimum size of an activity area) provision will normally be required on-site. Depending on the precise mix (in terms of number of bedrooms), around 33 dwellings will generate sufficient space.

7.49 However, where there is an existing play area for this age group within the accessibility distance set out in the policy and there is capacity to enhance that existing facility, a contribution in lieu of on-site provision may be negotiated as an alternative to on-site provision. Each case will be considered on its merits.

7.50 For smaller developments where the pro-rata requirement amounts to less than the minimum activity area size (200sqm), provision on-site will not normally be required but a pro-rata financial contribution will be negotiated in accordance with the policy. Exceptionally there may be cases where a play area with an activity zone of less than 200sqm can be justified on site e.g. where no alternative existing provision is available or the nearest existing play area is an unacceptable distance from the proposed development.

7.51 Teenagers – young people’s equipped and natural play (serving teenagers up to about the age of 17) should have a minimum activity area of 1000sqm and the separation distance between the edge of the activity area and the curtilage of the nearest dwelling should be a minimum of 30m in order to limit disturbance.

7.52 New equipped and natural play areas for young people are only likely to be required on larger development sites where the pro-rata requirement is sufficient to generate the space required. For example, depending on the precise mix (in terms of number of bedrooms) 235 units could provide a requirement of around 1400sqm which is sufficient to deliver one activity zone for teenagers and two activity spaces for the under 12s (1000sqm + 200sqm + 200sqm).

7.53 For smaller developments where the pro-rata requirement amounts to less than the minimum activity area size (1000sqm), provision on-site will not normally be required but a pro-rata financial contribution will be negotiated in accordance with the policy. Exceptionally there may be cases where a play area with an activity zone of less than 1000sqm can be justified on site e.g. where no alternative existing provision is available or the nearest existing play area is an unacceptable distance from the proposed development.

7.54 Informal/amenity green space – spaces open to free and spontaneous use by the public but neither laid out or managed for a specific function such as a park, playing field or recreation ground, nor managed as natural or semi-natural habitat.

7.55 Outdoor Sports Facilities – formal synthetic turf pitches, formally laid out  grass football and rugby pitches, cricket fields, tennis and other courts, bowling greens.

7.56 The pro-rata space requirement for outdoor sports facilities will provide the pitch/court area only and, where appropriate, space for the run of the ball. Surrounding space within which the pitch(es) or court(s) sit may be made up of amenity or other appropriate types of open space.

7.57 Allotments – an area of non residential land wholly or mainly cultivated by the occupier for the production of vegetables or fruit crops for consumption by himself or his family. This includes statutory and non-statutory allotments.

7.58 Built Facilities - ‘built facilities’ include indoor venues that accommodate sports and recreational activities for the community. The definition includes leisure centres, sports halls and swimming pools. Ancillary buildings such as standalone pavilions and changing blocks are not included in this definition.

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