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UK’s overhaul to the National Planning Policy Framework threatens sports

woensdag 7 maart 2018

Helen Griffiths, CEO of Fields in Trust has warned British Prime Minister, Theresa May, that the major overhaul to the National Planning Policy Framework recently announced by May, are threatening the health and wellbeing of UK citizens.

Fields in Trust have been protecting land for play, sport and recreation in the UK since 1920. They advocate the importance of these spaces to the health and wellbeing of communities.

Griffiths fears that the pressure for housing will result in the unintended consequence of loss of green spaces in both urban and rural areas. ‘The review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) provides an opportunity to reframe the current Section 106 proposals and commit to supporting the health, social and cultural wellbeing of communities. Given the role that parks and green spaces play in creating healthy communities it is crucial that they are prioritised in these commitments,’ she says.

‘We believe that this review provides an opportunity for more joined-up thinking across government in relation to parks and green spaces. The importance of protecting and enhancing the natural environment that is so strongly advocated in Department for Education Food and Rural Affairs 25-year Environment Plan is a key factor in ensuring the successful delivery of the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sports sports strategy to build a more active nation. Parks and green spaces are the foundation stone of an active, healthy nation and any revision to the NPPF should reflect this.’

Park and green spaces are facing an uncertain future in the UK. A recent Local Government Information Unit report indicates that, financial difficulties will force local councils to cut many core community services for their 2018/19 budgets. Over half say they will be reducing parks and leisure activities this year. ‘Added to this the change in the regulations from the 2015 Autumn Statement which mean local councils can retain 100% of the sale of assets to invest in public services and the prospect of a local council selling off a green space for much needed housing may well be attractive to cash-strapped council leaders - even though not a long-term solution.’

Recreation spaces in residential areas should therefore remain a priority for protection from development, especially at a time when there is pressure on land for new housing, Griffiths advocates. The partnership with HAB Housing Fields in Trust had last year, serves as an example of how things could work. ‘We developed an innovative collaboration which will secure recreational land in perpetuity as part of a new housing development at Kings Worthy near Winchester, Hampshire. As well as a new small housing development, the site was improved with allotments, wildflower meadows, play areas, a running circuit and a community orchard. Ownership of the site will be transferred to the local Parish Council, and the new community space will complement the existing facilities in the adjoining Eversley Park, with its football pitches, playground and basketball and tennis courts.’

door Guy Oldenkotte


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