Public Open Spaces

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SECTION 1

Purpose & Context

How Provision will be secured

This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) sets out guidance for the provision, enhancement, adoption and future maintenance of Public open spaces (POS) required in conjunction with new residential and commercial development across Warwick District. It replaces the previous Open Space SPD that was produced and adopted by this Council in2009.

The primary objectives of this SPD are as follows:-

  • To secure and ensure the provision of high quality, appropriate public open spaces
  • To give clarity to developers as to what will be expected of them in terms of on-site POS provision or where appropriate commuted contributions or enhancements to existing open space
  • To help secure safe and convenient access to POS, including children's play facilities to all residents of new housing developments and allotments where appropriate
  • To ensure that POS is designed, laid out and maintained to an acceptable standard
  • To help ensure that financial contributions for off-site POS enhancements to existing provision are calculated fairly in accordance with the Council's standards and spent appropriately
  • To help enhance the environment and ecology/ biodiversity in the vicinity of new housing developments.

Background

It is recognised that green space or POS, as well as good access to outdoor sports pitches and play facilities, has environmental, social and economic benefits. It is therefore an essential component of sustainable development. The Fields in Trust Charity (formerly known as The National Playing Fields Association) has produced research findings that demonstrate that parks and green spaces across the United Kingdom provide the population with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits annually.

In order to maintain a high quality environment and ensure sustainable development, it is essential that sufficient recreational and amenity space is provided throughout the district to meet the existing and future needs of the community.

National planning policy for green space reflects its importance and there is a strong presumption in favour of retaining and improving open space provision, particularly the creation or protection of linked networks of greenspaces in order to produce larger accessible areas of green infrastructure.

National policy requires local authorities to conduct detailed audits of their open space and prepare an open space strategy to assist with planning and management decisions relating to open space. Warwick District Council has completed such an audit of its parks and open spaces and the purpose of this Supplementary Planning Document is to give further guidance to developers on the requirements for public open space on new developments. It therefore expands on policies within the adopted Warwick District Local Plan 2011-2029 (Policy HS4 in particular).

Policy Context

This SPD is underpinned by a range of national, regional and local policy documents and strategies.

National Policy

National Planning Policy Framework (July 2018)

National Planning Policy is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with guidance on its interpretation provided in the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). The NPPF emphasises the value to the health and well-being of communities that come from providing access to a network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity. National Policy considers the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities to be provided in conjunction with new developments, and the protection of existing spaces and facilities from inappropriate development.

The NPPF advises that planning policies for open space, sport and recreation facilities should be informed by an assessment of need for their provision. The Council published its comprehensive Parks and Open Spaces Audit in 2008. In accordance with the guidance, the Audit also itemised deficits and surpluses of provision to help identify and inform decision making, and comprehensive quality audits have taken place every 3 years since.

Warwick District Council uses legal agreements to secure contributions to public open space. The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations 2010, Regulation 122 imposes statutory restraint on the use of planning obligations. The tests are repeated in paragraph 56 of the NPPF and advice contained within the PPG explains that "Planning Obligations mitigate the impact of unacceptable development to make it acceptable in planning terms".

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Local Policy

Warwick District Local Plan (2011-2029)

The Warwick District Local Plan was adopted in 2017. It includes a suite of parent policies which provide a policy framework to ensure that new development delivers open space to meet future needs and forms the context for the development of this SPD. The relevant policies are:-

Policy HS1 Healthy safe and Inclusive communities;

Policy HS2 Protecting Open Spaces, Sport and Recreation Facilities;

Policy HS3 Local Green Space;

Policy HS4 Improvements to Open Space, Sport and RecreationFacilities;

Policy HS5 Directing Open Space, Sport and Recreation Facilities;

Policy HS6 Creating Healthy Communities and

Policy DM1 Infrastructure Contributions

Policy FW2 Sustainable Drainage

Green Space Strategy for Warwick District (2012-2026)

This strategy was adopted by the Council in December 2012 its overriding function is to provide a strategic direction for the current and future provision of green space within Warwick District. It establishes an overall vision and framework for achieving key recommendations between 2012-2026 with a central theme being improving and maintaining the quality and value of all green spaces. The strategy also outlines a green space action plan that identifies specific green spaces that would benefit from qualitative improvements.

Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sport Strategy

The Council maintains and regularly updates a Playing Pitch Strategy. This document consists of a qualitative and quantitative study of the playing pitch provision in the district as well as projecting future demand based on the growth provided for in the Local Plan. This Strategy underpins the requirements laid out later in this SPD with regard to playing pitch provision and forms part of the SPD Evidence Base.

Evidence Base

National policy requires local authorities to assess the level of provision of open space within their boundaries in order to fully understand their current levels and differing typologies of open space. This information provides a basis for informing standards required of new development and becomes an integral part of the wider Green Space Strategy for the Council.

A full, detailed audit of open space in Warwick District was completed by Pleydell Smithyman in 2008 in support of the Green Space Strategy. The open space audit conducted a full examination of the amount, location, type and quality of green spaces available across the District and the varying qualitative and quantitative needs of different areas. The audit also involved a household questionnaire to help develop an understanding of the public's perception of the District's existing and future open space requirements. Overall there was general satisfaction with the level of open space provision although it was felt that improvements could be made to its quality and management in some instances.

The audit provided a significant amount of information and data on the amount, type and quality of open space available throughout the District as well as the varying qualitative and quantitative needs of different areas. This audit and the data collected was mapped on the Council's GIS system and will continue to assist and inform negotiations regarding open space provision going forwards.

It is the Council's intention to continue to utilise the overall standard of 5.47 Ha of unrestricted open space per 1000 head of population that was derived from the Parks and Open Spaces Audit as the basis for seeking open space contributions. For sites over 100 dwellings, a further 0.42 ha per 1000 head specifically for allotments. Negotiations with developers have, and will continue to, secure both land and financial contributions with regard to this standard in order to ensure that new developments will bring forward POS in a manner that reflects and replicates the District's historical levels of open space delivery as well as the character and nature of the District. In doing so, it is the Council's ambition to ensure that new development and the communities emerging will have access to an appropriate level of opportunities and access to enjoy high quality networks of green infrastructure and open spaces.

A review of major developments approved since the adoption of the Strategy show that the standards have been consistently met and that the findings of the original study remain. The details of this research are provided as part of the SPD Evidence Base.

The document updates advice regarding the process of engaging with the planning process and in particular provides a clearer understanding of what the Council will require from developers regarding the adoption process and legal agreements to ensure appropriate future management and maintenance regimes. Furthermore, it allows for a greater flexibility across the various typologies of public open space, ensuring that the right quantum of open space can be provided, whilst recognising that there can be areas of overlap such as between well-designed SuDS and natural areas.

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