Natural England - Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Natural greenspaces are very important to our quality of life. They provide a wide range of benefits for people and the environment.

Recent evidence shows that access to natural greenspaces for fresh air, exercise and quiet contemplation has benefits for both physical and mental health. Research provides good evidence of reductions in levels of heart disease, obesity and depression where people live close to greenspaces.

In addition to their potential ecological value, greenspaces also help us adapt to changes in climate through their role in reducing the risk of flooding and by cooling the local environment. Where trees are present they also act as filters for air pollution. Nature nearby is good for people, good for wildlife and good for the environment.

Natural England believes that everyone should have access to good quality natural greenspace near to where they live and have produced “ ‘Nature Nearby’ Accessible Natural Greenspace Guidance”external link to help people make this a reality.

The guidance is aimed at parks and greenspace practitioners and their partners, particularly decision makers, planners and managers of green space. It describes the amount, quality and level of visitor services that we believe everyone is entitled to.

The guidance proposes the adoption of three key standards by greenspace professionals that will deliver high quality and inspiring visitor experiences in green spaces close to where people live, and connect people with the natural environment. The standards include the Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt).

ANGSt was developed in the early 1990’s and was based on research into minimum distances people would travel to the natural environment. Natural England reviewed the standard in 2008 and concluded that it was still useful but that further guidance was required to explain how it should be applied. The Nature Nearby report published in 2010 provides this additional clarity.

ANGSt recommends that everyone, wherever they live, should have accessible natural greenspace:

  • of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 300 metres (5 minutes walk) from home;

  • at least one accessible 20 hectare site within two kilometre of home;

  • one accessible 100 hectare site within five kilometres of home; and

  • one accessible 500 hectare site within ten kilometres of home; plus

  • a minimum of one hectare of statutory Local Nature Reserves per thousand population.

ANGSt is a powerful tool in assessing current levels of accessible natural greenspace, and planning for better provision. The three underlying principles of ANGSt are:

  • a) Improving access to greenspaces

  • b) Improving naturalness of greenspaces

  • c) Improving connectivity with greenspaces

By using the best data available, applying ANGSt and using the additional guidance within Nature Nearby an analysis of the current provision of accessible natural greenspace within the counties of Hertfordshire: (12.19mb)pdf document, Norfolk: (11.28mb)pdf document and Suffolk: (9.48mb)pdf document has been completed and builds on the earlier report completed for Essex: (744kb)pdf document.

Using the evidence from these reports and the guidance provided in Nature Nearby, Natural England look forward to working in partnership with local authorities and other organisations to achieve improvements in the quantity, location and quality of natural greenspaces as part of the wider green infrastructure network.

Natural England intends to complete analysis for the counties of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire during 2010/2011.

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