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Local parks should be given the same protection as national parks, says charity

The government should encourage local communities to use the National Planning Policy Framework to protect their local parks and green spaces, says CPRE, the countryside charity. 

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, local communities can ringfence their recreation grounds, community gardens, fields popular with dog walkers and other locally valued green spaces from development.

It is a unique clause in planning rules that empowers local people to apply for national park-style protection from development to their most valued local green spaces. 

New research conducted by CPRE has shown that over 6,500 Local Green Space designations have been created since 2012, however inner cities and densely populated urban areas are the least likely to have benefited. 

They also found that wealthier parts of the south and Midlands had the majority of Local Green Space designations, while the poorest regions in the north had the least. 

CPRE is calling on the government to encourage all local authorities to promote the use of the Local Green Space designation as widely as possible.

person in red jacket and black pants holding black dog leash

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE said: ‘This is a solution to levelling up that has been hiding in plain sight; a planning superpower in the hands of ordinary people. All that people have to prove is they use and value the land for it to be eligible to be protected like it’s a national park.

‘Unfortunately, there is a sliding scale of injustice when it comes to who is benefitting. Put simply, the poorer you are and the more nature-deprived your neighbourhood already is, the less likely you are to have any protected Local Green Space. It’s time to address this imbalance and level up everyone’s access to nature.

‘That is why we’re calling on the government to promise the equivalent of a national park for every neighbourhood. Local Green Space designation is a powerful way to protect vulnerable slices of nature, particularly in deprived areas. It has the added benefit of nurturing neighbourhood planning groups so that local residents get more of a say in what gets built locally.

‘Our iconic national parks are rightly celebrated and protected. But research repeatedly shows they are not accessible to all – and that the poorest in society benefit the least. That’s why it should be a national priority to protect our local parks and green spaces so that everybody, no matter where they live, has access to the benefits of nature.’

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