«Over one third of the area of the London Borough of Richmond is open space. Some of these areas are world renowned, for example Richmond Park ...»
Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc
Over one third of the area of the London Borough of Richmond is open space. Some
of these areas are world renowned, for example Richmond Park National Nature
Reserve, Kew Gardens and the River Thames, linked by an extensive network of
smaller open spaces and green routes which all add to the special landscape
heritage of the Borough. The open spaces add significantly to the quality of life
enjoyed by people who live or work here as well as the large numbers of people who visit the Borough. This Draft Open Spaces Strategy was developed by the Council in consultation with key stakeholders including representatives of the major open space providers. We have set out a joint vision for preserving, managing and enhancing open spaces for local people and visitors alike. This is your opportunity to let us know what you think and we would be delighted to receive your ideas and suggestions.
What is an Open Space Strategy?
An Open Space Strategy is designed to set local standards based on assessments of need, demographic and cultural changes and audits of existing open spaces. It is the basis for redressing quantitative and qualitative deficiencies through the planning process and recommends strategies and standards for inclusion in the Unitary Development Plan.
The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Open Spaces Strategy aims to set out a clear vision and priorities for the provision and management of open spaces in
the Borough. The primary goals are:
• Establishing and demonstrating a clear understanding of the existing amount, type, distribution, quality and condition of the Borough’s open space;
• To understand of the needs of communities and stakeholders with regard to open space;
• To produce principles and guidance for the future use of open space;
• To recommend priorities for action to redress deficiencies, maintain standards and meet needs and demands.
Scope of the Open Spaces Strategy The scope of the Strategy includes all open space in the Borough including: parks, gardens, woodlands, rivers and canals, civic spaces, allotments, cemeteries and disused or operational land, whether in public or private ownership. It also considers the important contribution made by sites just outside the Borough boundaries.
Development of the Open Spaces Strategy The Strategy has been written by the Council, in partnership with the Greenspace Stakeholder Group. This group includes the main open space providers and Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc representatives of key customer groups including: the Royal Parks Agency; English Heritage; the National Trust; the Crown Estates; Hounslow Community Partnership;
Richmond Advice and Information on Disability and other interest groups. The methodology and development of the Strategy has followed guidance set out in Planning Policy Guidance 17, government guidance which sets out a clear requirement for local authorities to audit their current open spaces against local needs and demands and provide a strategic approach to providing and managing open spaces.
The Strategy builds on the findings of the Parks and Open Spaces Best Value Review in 2001, supplemented by a comprehensive site and desk-based audit of the open space which is currently open to the public, matched against needs and demands for open space. The Strategy considers how, by working together, the Council and its partners can make the best use of the management resources available. The Strategy sets out fundamental strategies and guidance to help rectify deficiencies identified during the. Following consultation, these approaches and ideas will be refined and developed into an Action Plan.
Structure of the Strategy Document
• Introduction (summarised above) • Policy Framework • Audit - A comprehensive audit of the scale, quantity, function and quality of the open spaces to establish accurate information with regard to existing conditions and provision.
• Needs and Demands - An assessment of the socio-demographic make up of residents and visitors to the Borough considering the needs and preferences of the community and associated stakeholders.
• Options (Resources and Other Issues) • Strategy - Through the collation of the information obtained from the areas above, strategies were formulated which seek to redress deficits and meet needs.
• Implementation. Following this consultation, Borough wide and area specific implementation plans will be developed.
An assessment of the existing national, regional and local policy guidance including draft, un-adopted, information on the formulation of Open Space Strategies obtained from the Greater London Authority (GLA). A full list of the documents considered and a summary of their implications are included.
The Open Spaces Strategy and supporting appendices include detailed outcomes of the audit. The results are summarised on Area Analysis Maps of 9 areas. The Open Spaces Strategy Audit Report and Appendices are available in local reference libraries and on the Richmond Council Website.
Quantity, Distribution and Function of Open Space With well over 2000 hectares of open space, of which approximately one quarter is managed by the Council, the London Borough of Richmond is fortunate to have a Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc generous overall supply of open space. Although the open space is not evenly distributed, at 13 hectares per 1000 population this more than five times the National Playing Field Association’s recommendation of 6 acres (2.48 hectares) per 1000 population. The quality of the open spaces is generally high, however the infrastructure is beginning to deteriorate and will require substantial investment if that quality is to be maintained and health and safety is not to be compromised.
The size, distribution, and primary function of the open spaces has been mapped.
This includes open space functions including parks, gardens and semi-natural open spaces, sports facilities, cemeteries and allotment sites. For ease of future analysis, it would be helpful to capture and store this information on a Geographical Information System (GIS).
Quality and Condition of Open Space
The quality of many of the open spaces is high with several being of sufficient landscape design quality and historic value to be formally registered as Historic Parks. A high proportion of the Borough is designated as Conservation Area. This inherent quality is very positive, however, it does mean that maintenance of these sites needs to be carefully considered and is often more expensive.
The maintenance of the landscape features, walls, paths, playgrounds, pavilions and memorials has been rather neglected, historically. This is symptomatic of the decline of open spaces funding across the country. A recent survey by English Heritage revealed that there was a very considerable backlog of maintenance to the country’s historic features: ‘State of the Historic Environment 2002’ English Heritage. In Richmond Council’s open spaces alone this backlog of repairs exceeds £4 million.
An audit has been undertaken which assess the quality and condition of each open space. The results are shown on the Area Analysis Maps.
Analysis of the existing supply and quality of open space against the projected need for open space established a number of key issues for resolution, as well as gaps in provision. These issues and gaps are the focus of this strategy. The two main analytical tools used to assist this process were consideration of the socio demographic profile and a general appreciation of the changing nature of recreational needs.
The 2001 Census data reveals that 33% of the households have children and the Borough has the 9th highest proportion in Greater London of children under 5 years old. 14% of the population are over 65 and the Borough has the 4th highest proportion of over 85s in Greater London. 23% of households have one or more persons with a limiting, long-term illness. The Borough clearly needs to consider the accessibility issues presented by high numbers of carers of small children and high numbers of older people. 9% of the Borough’s population fall into the non- white category, within which there is a considerable range of different backgrounds. A more detailed level of analysis will be completed following receipt of ward level data (anticipated Summer 2003.) The Borough has the 3rd lowest crime rate in London, but fear of crime remains a significant concern.
Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc A Changing Society The Strategy has taken into account a rapidly evolving change in lifestyles, shifting demographics, shrinking household composition, ethnic diversification and technological advances requiring the Open Space Strategy to be as much about flexibility of function as it is about provision and maintenance. More leisure time, higher aspirations, greater choice in leisure activities leading to ‘competing’ demands and the need for places which foster social interactions require a creative response to open space planning and provision by those responsible for the Borough’s open spaces to ensure that such changes are acknowledged, responded to and celebrated.
Surveyed residents share a common set of basic requirements for their parks and
open spaces. These include parks and open spaces that are:
• Clean – without litter, dog mess or graffiti
• Safe – preferably with a visible staff presence
• Green – restful, rich in wildlife
• Varied – with activities and events and a variety of local choices
• Welcoming - well maintained, with good signage and infrastructure
Key IssuesTwelve key issues were identified following the Audit, as follows:
1. Areas with limited access to open space 2. Resources are heavily constrained for repair and maintenance of infrastructure (e.g paths, pavilions, sports pitches and historic features) 3. Ensuring that the special character and value of the Borough’s open spaces is maintained and enhanced.
4. Providing safe welcoming open spaces and designing out crime and fear of crime.
5. The need to improve the accessibility of open spaces 6. The need to provide safe children’s playgrounds.
7. The need to provide adequate sports facilities 8. The need to support and develop community interest and involvement in open spaces 9. Event management
10. Concern about dog behaviour and dog fouling
11. Long term provision of burial capacity
12. Provision of allotment capacity to meet local needs Each of these issues is considered in the section called ‘Key Issues and Proposed Approach’ in the light of the resources which are currently available.
The Borough has a relatively large amount of open space per capita compared to the national average. This requires substantial capital and revenue funding purely to maintain them at their current standard let alone implement significant improvements and adaptations. Improved revenue and capital support from the Government, and creative financing methods including partnering are required to help enable improved Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc maintenance and open space enhancements to be implemented. The full Audit Report addresses this issue in more depth.
Revenue Funding The Council has a relatively low spending level per hectare of open space when compared to other outer London Boroughs. The Parks and Open Spaces Service has, in common with similar services around the country, been subject to reductions in budget allocation although there has been a recent budget increase to allow increased standards of maintenance and additional restoration of park keepers to two Key Parks.
Reduction in revenue funding has been coupled with sustained lack of capital investment which is starting to show in the condition of the parks and open spaces and, in particular, in the infrastructure including: buildings, paths, walls, fences, historic features and playground equipment.
This situation is unlikely to alter in the current financial climate and current resources have therefore been reviewed and opportunities for external funding opportunities
explored. Funding approaches and options considered include:
• Planning expenditure to maximise benefit through partnership • Partnership working to secure benefits often available through community groups • Local business sponsorship • Ensuring match funding and ‘pump priming’ funding is available • Giving priority to projects where external funding is available • Maximising the use of volunteers • Transport for London (TfL) funding for maintenance and off road routes between open spaces • Section 106 agreements secured for local improvements as part of planning processed • Increasing income through increased fees and charges • Private Finance Initiative – securing benefits in e.g. sports facility improvements • Setting up a Parks Endowment Fund to receive monies from any of the above, including possible disposal of open land of less value to ‘endow’ the remaining parks and open spaces.
All of the above are assessed in more depth in the full Open Spaces Strategy Audit Report.
Draft Open Spaces Consultation Summaryfinal.doc The approach has been derived by considering the key issues which arose from the Audit. This included: current provision; an assessment of current needs and demands for open space; population and social trends; future opportunities. The overall approach has had to take account of prevailing financial constraints.
This has led to the development of a Vision, Strategic Objectives and 10 Key Principles.
A Vision for the Richmond upon Thames’ Open Spaces “To provide access to an exciting range of open space experiences for all.” Our 4 Core Strategic Objectives
• Partnership towards civic pride
• Quality of design and management
• Safety and security
• Variety and enjoyment Our 10 Key Principles Stewardship 1. Protect visual and physical access to open land 2. Protect, enhance and promote the characteristic features of the Borough particularly the riverside, historic landscapes and features.