Guidelines seek to secure green space

All Scottish local authorities must prepare open space strategies and use development plans to specify provision of open areas under guidelines issued last week.

Scottish Planning Policy 11, Open Space and Physical Activity, comes into effect immediately and details new consultation procedures for applications affecting sports facilities such as tennis courts and bowling greens.

It also sets out a requirement for ministers to be notified of any project proposed for land designated as open space in development plans.

Each strategy will have to be reviewed every five years. However, there will be no national minimum standards for the quantity of open space in new developments.

Unveiling the policy, planning minister Stewart Stevenson explained that the aim is to create a greener, healthier Scotland. "By strengthening protection for open spaces we will ensure that the future needs of all our communities are provided for," he said.

Stevenson said the amount of open space in new developments is best dealt with locally. "The planning system is operated largely by local authorities and decisions about protection and investment in open space are best made by councils and local communities," he said.

He added: "Locally determined open space strategies rather than nationally imposed standards are the best way to ensure that the provision of open space across Scotland is sensitive to local circumstances."

The term "open space" includes parks, playing fields, footpaths, cycle paths, woodland, allotments and civic spaces.

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