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Green open spaces have a vital contribution to make towards improving ...
Green open spaces have a vital contribution to make towards improving

the quality of life in our towns and cities and should feature in the

government's Urban White Paper, Countryside Commission chief

executive Richard Wakeford has said.

Speaking at the National Housing and Planning Conference in

Eastbourne, he told delegates: 'The deputy prime minister John

Prescott is right to want to produce attractive vibrant towns and

cities. This objective will be widely welcomed. The quality of towns

depends on their urban green space such as parks, urban greens and

informal green spaces. These provide the breathiing spaces that are

so important to people in built up places. The countryside around

towns provides the setting of the town, helping to give identity and

to give people opportunities to enjoy fresh air nearby. It is

important that we use brownfield sites for new homes, wherever

possible, and provide properly for greenspace.

'However brownfield development is not always the best option,

especially if it means sacrificing urban green space. There's no

point in cramming houses on every last brown field site if that only

encourages those who can afford it to move off to the countryside for

a better environment.

'Open green spaces should be a characteristic of all new development

- be it in the town or the country. Though the volume housebuilders

have achieved a great deal in cost effective design, there are still

too few examples of the well-managed open space and cycleways which

should feature in sustainable settlements. This is an enormous

opportunity which should not be missed, as it will have a major

impact on the lives of most of our future citizens.

'One of this commission's objectives is that planners need to provide

for the right setting for towns. All towns should sit in well managed

countryside. Development plans need restraint policies on urban

growth and positive objectives for the countryside around towns.

'Every town and city should develop a greenspace programme, so that

everyone, including socially excluded groups, has access to, and is

able to enjoy, open space near their homes.

'Our vision has nine strands:

- Everyone should have access to open space within a quarter of a

mile of home

- Every town and city needs safe routes for access to the

countryside by foot or bicycle

- Every child needs the chance to value and enjoy the countryside

- Every town or city should have woodland and parkland with

provision for sport and recreation

- Countryside in and around towns should be managed to maximise

environmental and recreational benefits

- Every area awaiting development should be positively managed, not

allowed to become derelict

- All new development should reflect and strengthen the character

of the local landscape or restore distinctiveness

- Every town or city, if it expands, should retain green corridors

or wedges - areas of greenspace - to create a planned 'greenspace


- Every town or city should have a greenspace programme', to plan

and manage the settings of towns and cities for environmental and

economic regeneration and improved quality of life

'For each town or city the greenspace network could include urban

parks, country parks and Millennium Greens, as well as Community

Forests, with a programme which builds on the character of the area,

adapted according to local circumstances.

'We hope John Prescott will make sure his Urban White Paper, which we

welcome, contains a clear approach to urban greenspace. It is an

opportunity which must not be missed,' Mr Wakeford concluded.

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