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12. Open Space

Core Strategy Strategic Objective

To support healthy lifestyles through ensuring sufficient land is made available to all for play, sport and recreation.

SCS Strategic Aims

There are opportunities for everyone to participate in sport, the arts and cultural activities.

Everyone is able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and sense of well being

Why is this a strategic objective?

12.1 Open space can underpin the quality of people's lives through facilitating social inclusion, supporting healthier lifestyles and personal well-being, and providing educational opportunities. Open space can also play an important part in urban regeneration by enhancing the environment, supporting nature conservation, and improving air quality. It therefore has a central role to play in addressing many of our current concerns; including climate change, social cohesion, healthy lifestyles and regeneration.

12.2 Warwick District contains a large number of open spaces which vary in terms of type, quality and size. These include formal sports fields, parks and gardens, nature reserves, informal recreation areas, children's play areas, allotments, green corridors such as rivers and canals, cemeteries, and woodlands. In total, there is over 1,700ha of open space within the District, with just under 700ha being unrestricted and publicly accessible. This makes an important contribution to the character of the towns and villages, and to the health and well-being of the local population.

Evidence:

Participation

12.3 In response to public consultation on the "Issues Paper", the majority of respondents considered the protection and enhancement of green spaces was the top priority for the District. Over 40% of all respondents considered it important to protect parks and open spaces, children's play areas, sports pitches and allotments. Respondents also felt there was a need for more leisure facilities in the District. Residents surveyed as part of the Warwick District Place Survey (2008) also identified parks and open spaces as important in making somewhere a good place to live.

Research

12.4 The following documents provide further evidence of the importance of open space and the strategies currently in place:

  • The Parks and Open Spaces Audit Assessment (2008) provides further evidence on the quantity and quality of open space within the District and the needs of the community for open space; and,
  • Play Strategy 2007-2012 provides a strategy for improving children and young people's play opportunities and experiences.

National and Regional Planning Policies

12.5 Relevant national planning policy on open spaces is contained within Planning Policy Guidance 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation. This requires local planning authorities to undertake robust assessments of existing and future needs of their communities for open space, sports and recreational facilities, as well as audits of existing open space and facilities. This should enable the local planning authority to identify specific needs and deficits or surpluses of open space, sports and recreational facilities in their area which will be addressed through an effective strategy and planning policies that protect and secure new provision in suitable locations.

12.6 Regional planning policy requires local planning authorities to undertake assessments and develop strategies for greenspace as set out in national policy. Emphasis should be given to improving the overall quality of open space in town centres, the setting of local residential neighbourhoods, and maintaining and enhancing sports and playing fields. Adequate protection should be given to parks, green corridors and open spaces, and new areas should be linked to the wider countryside.

What are the Options?

12.7 National and regional planning policy is clear in terms of the approach to be taken by the Council towards protecting and improving open space provision within the Core Strategy. The Council has undertaken a Parks and Open Spaces Audit, which included an assessment of local demand and aspirations for open space. This audit and assessment provides the evidence base to support the strategic policy approach to be adopted within the Core Strategy towards protecting and improving the quality of existing open spaces, including parks, green spaces and allotments within the District, and increasing the quantity of open space as the towns and villages grow over the period to 2026. Further work will be required in relation to sports and indoor recreational facilities.

12.8 The broad nature and amount of open space provision to be secured through new developments would be considered through the preparation of the infrastructure delivery plan (see Strategic Objective on Infrastructure) and further detailed guidance would need to be provided in subsequent development plan documents or supplementary planning documents.

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