OPEN SPACE, SPORTS AND RECREATION | Introduction

11.1 INTRODUCTION

“If physical activity was a drug it would be regarded as a miracle”

11.1.1  As well as protecting existing open space and sports and recreational buildings and land, government policy requires planners to continually review the provision of open space, sports and recreation facilities and to plan positively for additional provision where there is need:

NPPF paragraph 96: “Access to a network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity make an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of communities. Planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities (including quantitative or qualitative deficits or surpluses) and opportunities for new provision.”

11.1.2  Uttlesford District Council produced a Sports and Open Spaces strategy via a suite of documents dated 2019. Maps of the spaces catalogued in the strategy are attached in Appendix 5.

11.1.3  Subject to three considerations, The NPPF allows Neighbourhood Plans to identify and designate Local Green Space:

NPPF Paragraph 100: “The designation of land as Local Green Space through local and neighbourhood plans allows communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them. Identifying land as Local Green Space should be consistent with the local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or updated, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period.”

NPPF Paragraph 101. “The Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is:

a) in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;

b) demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and

c) local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

102.  Policies for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with those for Green Belts.”

11.1.4  The quantity standard recommended to UDC in the Uttlesford District Council Open Space Standards Paper is summarised on page 12 of that paper and is reproduced below:

11.1.5  Parks and Gardens are described in the Assessment as “urban parks and formal gardens (including designed landscapes) which provide accessible high-quality opportunities for informal recreation and community events.”   

11.1.6  Natural and semi natural greenspace includes woodland, scrub, grassland and other similarly natural environments which assist with wildlife conservation, biodiversity and environmental education and awareness.

11.1.7  Amenity Greenspace is described in the Assessment as “sites offering opportunities for informal activities close to home or work or enhancement of the appearance of residential or other areas. It includes informal recreations spaces, housing green spaces, village greens and other incidental space.”

11.1.8  Open space which is of a size which makes it fit for purpose can include the areas fitting or overlapping the categories “parks and gardens”, “natural and semi natural greenspace” and “amenity greenspace. An example is The Common, which has areas fitting into each category. For this reason, the combined quantity of provision is considered in the SWNP. By this method, Saffron Walden ought to have 7.61ha per 1,000 of the population. A holistic approach to considering the needs of people and the environment would determine the actual layout and usage of any sites coming forward, as well as any re-purposing of current space.

11.1.8  Provision for children and young people is predominantly delivered as playgrounds.

11.1.9  Population in Saffron Walden is most recently estimated as 16,719 and the UDC Open Space Standards Paper uses an average of 2.4 residents per household.

POLICIES

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Neighbourhood Plan Objectives

Objective 1

Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.

Objective 2

Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.

Objective 3

Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.

Objective 4

Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.

Objective 5

Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.