Developing an open space strategy
Open space strategies helps to coordinate management and make the most of all green and open spaces in an area. Climate change will make this increasingly important.
The amount and distribution of green and open space in cities and towns will be of increasing importance under future climates. An even distribution of green space in various forms and sizes will help to manage the urban heat island effect and ensure residents and visitors have access to green oases wherever they are.
National standards including Access to Natural Green Space in Towns set high thresholds for access to green space and wildlife, including that everyone should have access within 300 metres of their home.
Public space is part of an open space network that includes green and blue infrastructure. It should form the focus of movement corridors at all hierarchy levels from sub-region to local. The key is to use land efficiently considering landscape, ecology and geo-morphological conditions to determine the best function of specific areas within the city.
At a city scale, open space strategies can help to make green and open space more prominent on the local political agenda and ensure they are managed in a co-ordinated way. They need to set out clearly how they relate to green infrastructure strategies, where the focus is on all green and blue elements regardless of ownership, and consider a wide range of possible functions.
An example of a city-wide strategy is Bristol’s Parks and Green Space Strategy which outlines a 20 year investment programme for the future provision of green space and the facilities and services that should be provided across the city.
Open space strategies
Open space strategies draws on CABE Space’s five-year history of support across England to those producing open space strategies.
It reflects the latest thinking on the role of open space in tackling climate change and improving the quality of people’s lives.
Open space strategies should prioritise city-wide management opportunities for moderating temperatures within and surrounding parks and green spaces. Evaporative cooling is very important in these spaces, which provide green oases with cooler microclimates. that green spaces develop a distinctive microclimate when they are greater than one hectare.
A study by Watkins et al in 2002 at Primrose Hill, London (a park of approximately 50 ha) found that mean air temperatures were 0.6ºC lower in the park than in surrounding streets, while peak temperatures were 1.1°C lower. The park’s influence on air temperatures extended downstream by up to 400m.
The largest temperature differences are found in larger parks with the spatial extent of cooling increasing with park size. Modelling work has also suggested that the interval between green areas is important for surrounding air temperatures, with smaller green areas at sufficient intervals preferable for the effective cooling of the surrounding area.
Biodiversity should be a key component of the open space strategy. The strategy can review existing city-wide management practices and investigate opportunities to change them to allow more biodiversity.
The open space strategy should take into account Natural England’s urban greenspace standards. These recommend that:
- every home should be within 300 m (5 minutes walk) from an accessible natural green space
- there should be 1 ha of local nature reserves per 1,000 people
- there should be an accessible 20 ha site, 100 ha site, and 500 ha site within 2 km, 5 km and 10 km, respectively, of every home.
The translation of the open space strategy into planning policy is important to ensure its effective implementation. Local development documents, area action plans or similar planning frameworks need to set out provision and access requirements. Minimum requirements (in land area, quality, typology and proximity) should reflect community need and demands and the location of the area within the city transect – whether city centre, suburban or edge. Design and access statements should describe how these are satisfied in hard and soft landscape quantity and quality in any application. This applies to industrial and commercial development as well as residential.
CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield