In August Public Health England launched their ‘Improving access to greenspace: a new review for 2020‘.
This review provides a toolkit for local government and those working in partnership with it, offering policy, practice and research recommendations to guide decision-making and strategies.
As we all know, since this publication became live in March the world has changed, and public health and well-being have never been more in the spotlight. As a nation we are working differently, socialising differently, and many of us are seeing things from a new perspective. The NHS is commended on every street corner, outdoor pursuits such as cycling have increased exponentially, and people are truly appreciating their accessible greenspaces.
With Natural Capital and Biodiversity Net Gain as industry hot topics, and with a new Parliamentary Act on the horizon, making sustainable, multi-functional use of land has never been more important. This publication, together with the global pandemic, has shone a spotlight on public open space, and the industry has increased its awareness of how important placemaking is, and the benefits it delivers – not just to the community at large, but also to property values and sales turnaround.
Sustainability quotas often require a sustainable drainage solution. High quality or TPO’d trees require retention. Protected species such as badgers, bats, and great crested newts require some form of intervention or safeguard. All of these things chip away at the “developable area” of a site. But this land is not valueless. With the right focus, all of these “constraints” can become advantageous: the SuDS basin becomes a recreational setting, the TPO’d tree becomes a focal point within the park, the 10% Biodiversity Net Gain quota gets delivered on site, and at the same time creates a place for people to enjoy.