An organisation which works to conserve England’s open spaces is urging people to protect green spaces in their own areas.

Even in cities, there are patches of greenery that people have enjoyed using  for years and the Open Spaces Society says residents need to protect them before developers try to move in.

It says experience has shown that many communities which had taken their green spaces for granted later found it difficult and costly to save them once developers showed an interest in the site.

But if  land has been used by residents for recreation for 20 years, they can seek to register it with their local council as a green space and this gives it protection from “encroachment” under law.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of OSS says it is a much easier process if the land has not already been earmarked for development so people should act before that happens.
She cites a spot at Croxley Green in Hertfordshire, where it took four years to save  green space from development. Another site in Cumbria – where a traditional Easter game has been played for generations – is now earmarked for a superstore and campaigners are protesting about it.  But if  local communities had  sought protection before development plans were drawn up , the land could have been protected.

The land involved doesn’t have to be a traditional village green to win protection. It could be simply a piece of land on your housing estate where children have always played or people have walked their dogs and played ball games.

The OSS said many communities assume their green space is safe and are shocked when they hear that development plans have been drawn up for it.

Writing in the society’s magazine, Open Space, Kate Ashbrook says: “Parish and community councils and other local groups should set up a task force to seek out and map those bits of land which local residents cherish.”

She says the OSS can help people to register a cherished piece of open space as a protected area and secure its future for all time.

The OSS website has lots of helpful information about green spaces and public rights of way and there’s a map of Britain which you can use to check on its activities in your own area.




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