Policy BG/EO: Providing and enhancing open spaces

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will set out how new development should provide new and enhanced open space to meet the needs it generates.

Proposed policy direction

Open space and recreation provision will be required to be provided by new development, appropriate to the scale and location of the development. Provision will be onsite where appropriate, if not financial contributions will be sought to help improve off site facilitates. This includes space for sports pitches, play space for children and teenagers, and more informal spaces, such as for dog walking. Allotments and other community food growing opportunities such as community orchards will also be sought. It is also important that green spaces are multi-functional where possible. 

The type of provision sought will be guided by the needs and opportunities of the local area. This will vary across Greater Cambridge, requiring tailored solutions to individual locations.  

The Councils have adopted open space standards, set out in their current local plans. These establish the quantity and accessibility of open space that should be provided, when it should be on site or is used to guide the scale of financial contribution required, guided by local opportunities and constraints.  

These standards are different for Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, reflecting the differences between the City with its urban character and formal parks for example, and the more rural environment of the villages. A review of the standards will be carried out to inform the draft plan to ensure they are up to date. 

Why is this policy needed?

Open spaces, regardless of ownership, are a key aspect of high-quality urban and rural environments and are often fundamental to the character of an area. Attractive, accessible and well-designed open space can support and enhance the appearance of an area, creating more desirable places to live and underpin good growth. Open spaces and recreation facilities provide people with a place to relax and socialise as well as encouraging healthier lifestyles by providing opportunities for sport, informal play and daily encounters with the natural environment. They can also offer people the opportunity to grow their own food in allotments and community gardens and orchards. 

Multifunctional spaces can help people to socialise and relax as well as encourage healthier lifestyles. These areas can also assist with climate change strategies by reducing local heat islands in urban areas. The policy will support the delivery of large-scale green spaces which may also include water spaces, in order to provide a range of benefits in one location such as providing recreation space, providing habitats for wildlife, reducing heat island effects and reducing flood risk. 

An essential part of the character of Cambridge stems from its many green spaces, trees and other landscape features, including the River Cam. These not only play an important role in promoting both active and passive sport and recreational activities but also provide valuable amenity space and support for biodiversity. 

In both new and rural settlements, open spaces help form the individual character and identity of a village as well as encourage social interaction and recreational activity. These spaces can therefore play an important role in helping communities develop greater social cohesion and avoid feelings of social isolation leading to greater community resilience. 

Open spaces not only help support the health, social and cultural well-being of local communities but also help support strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.  

The varied nature of the area means that tailored solutions will be required. In Cambridge, urban areas may require investment in existing sites, such as improvements to the quality of sports pitches, and innovative approaches to new facilities such as creating safe jogging routes, or using roof space. In the villages open space is often focused around a recreation ground. These are typically owned and managed by Parish Councils, and they will play an important role in understanding the constraints and opportunities for enhancement. New communities and major developments offer the opportunity for a bespoke approach, and will be expected to include a range of accessible open spaces and facilities.  

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Some of the key feedback received during the First Conversation consultation included views that development should contribute to open space and green infrastructure in and beyond development sites. We should create public spaces for social interaction, that are accessible and safe for people of all ages and abilities, and well connected by walking and cycling routes. Our plans should promote healthy lifestyles, including access to areas for growing food and caring for the natural environment. We should promote outdoor activities, including by creating all-weather exercise areas. We should also consider access to more natural areas, including separate areas which specifically support wildlife.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy – Not considered a reasonable alternative as this would not plan positively for the provision of open space, which is required by national planning policy, and an important part of the vision for the area.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 3: Biodiversity and Green Spaces  

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 

  • Policy SC/7: Outdoor Playspace, Informal Open Space and New Developments 

  • Policy SC/1: Allocation for Open Space 

Cambridge Local Plan 2018 

  • Policy 68: Open space and recreation provision through new development 

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