Policy G2

Policy G2: Designation of Local Green Spaces

G2.1: Green spaces within Our Neighbourhood that are of significant environmental, landscape or historical value are designated as Local Green spaces. These areas, as shown on the proposals map, comprise:

  1. The River Wear corridor that lies within Our Neighbourhood; and
  2. Observatory Hill; and
  3. Flass Vale Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve and North End allotments and leisure gardens; and
  4. St Margaret’s Cemetery plus St Margaret’s allotments; and
  5. DLI grounds; and
  6. Woodland on the south side of the City, comprising Maiden Castle Wood, Great High Wood, Hollingside Wood and Blaid’s Wood; and
  7. Battle of Neville’s Cross: the undeveloped area of the registered battlefield site within Our Neighbourhood.

G2.2 Development in these Local Green Spaces must be consistent with NPPF policy for Green Belts.

4.80 The NPPF guidance defines Local Green Space designation as a way to provide special protection against development for green areas of particular importance to local communities. The areas above (see Map 6) have been designated as local green spaces for the following reasons:

  1. The river and river corridor of the River Wear as it meanders through the City’s floodplain and cuts through the rocky gorge of the peninsular is the most significant landscape feature of the City. Its important contribution to the setting of the World Heritage Site and the City cannot be overestimated. The river and riverbanks are an important component of the Durham City Conservation Area in all five character areas. Respondents to the Forum’s priority survey (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015) listed the riverbank setting and riverside walks as the second highest attribute of what is good about Durham city. The river paths are well used for walking and leisure activities, and provide an important wildlife corridor linking the character areas of the City Conservation Area to each other and to the wider countryside within Our Neighbourhood. The Durham Regatta is an important annual event. Protection of the river corridor was included in the City of Durham Local Plan saved policy E5 on protecting open spaces within Durham City. And a River Wear Walkway was proposed in policy R13 (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a). Our Policy G1 (points 9 and 10) seeks to retain existing, and support new, footpaths, wildlife corridors, dark corridors and cycle paths along the river where the physical space allows. {ADD LINK}
  2. Observatory Hill, adjoining Potters Bank and near to Durham School, is within both the inner bowl of the World Heritage Site and the City Conservation Area. Its elevated site makes it very visible from the centre, and it contributes to the green and rural landscape setting for the World Heritage site and the City centre. It is well used for walking and leisure activities. It was included in the City of Durham Local Plan saved policy E5 on protecting open spaces within Durham City (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a).
  3. Flass Vale Local Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve and North End allotments and leisure gardens. Flass Vale is an historic area of woodland lying within the Green belt. Its wildlife value has been recognised by designation as a Local Wildlife Site; part of the site is registered as Common Land and part is designated as a Local Nature Reserve. Maiden’s Bower, a Bronze Age round cairn and scheduled ancient monument, is located in Flass Vale. Local legend says Maiden’s Bower was the site of a vigil held during the battle of Neville’s Cross. The North End allotments and leisure gardens that lie to the North East of the site are an integral part. Such a central site is always under threat of development, and new permitted developments have ‘nibbled away’ at the edges of this site. The local importance of this site is demonstrated by the active group the ‘Friends of Flass Vale’ who manage and care for the site.
  4. St Margaret’s Cemetery plus St Margaret’s allotments, between Crossgate and South St, provide an important green space in the centre of the City. The Cemetery provides a wildlife refuge, a place for walking and quiet contemplation as well as being of historic value (St Margaret’s Church is one of the earliest churches in the City, dating from the 12 century). The Cemetery abuts onto the allotments. The allotments provide for gardening and leisure, as well as a wildlife resource, and are of historic value (the site has been cultivated since the middle ages, and was once the Cathedral’s vegetable garden and fish ponds; it is thought that the old quarry in the allotments was the source of the stone used to build the Cathedral). It was included in the City of Durham Local Plan saved policy E5 on protecting open spaces within Durham City (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a).
  5. DLI grounds. The DLI grounds are within the Green Belt. The significance of these grounds as a resting place for the ashes of members of the DLI Regiment makes this a site of huge importance and value to local people. Part of these grounds could be made into a Memorial Garden. The DLI grounds could function in association with the refurbished Wharton Park by providing a safe and secure picnic area, particularly for parents and children. The grounds could provide the setting for a possible Art Centre or arts facilities within the DLI building, with the current DLI car park providing necessary car parking for people using these grounds and facilities.
  6. Woodland. Maiden Castle Wood, Great High Wood, Hollingside Wood and Blaid’s Wood have been in existence since at least the 19th Century, though replanting has occurred in the 20th Century. Parts of these woods show the remnants of old railway embankments, and interpretation boards in Great High Wood give visitors information about the railway and mining historical background. Maiden Castle is an Iron Age promontory fort and is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Hollingside Wood, Great High Wood and Blaid’s Wood are designated as Areas of High Landscape Value, Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland, Sites of Nature Conservation Importance and Sites of Ecological Value. All these woods provide a near continuous block of woodland with public access. They are used by the public for walking, cycling and leisure activities. The woods are renowned for their display of English bluebells in the Spring. As Durham University says: “The number of designations covering the woodlands reflect their importance in terms of landscape, amenity, and conservation.” (Durham University. Biodiversity Policy)
  7. Nevilles Cross Battlefield: the undeveloped area of the battlefield site within Our Neighbourhood, including land lying on both sides of the registered public footpath forming part of a boundary walk around the edge of the Battlefield site to the immediate west of Crossgate Moor. The battle of Neville’s Cross, between Scottish and English forces, took place on 17th October 1346, on moorland just to the west of Durham. This was a significant battle as the Scots were comprehensively defeated, and this loss led to English occupation of parts of Scotland south of the Forth and Clyde rivers. It was over a century before the Scots could recover this land. The battlefield is built-over on the eastern side, although some of the area the around Crossgate Moor is still undeveloped. The land on the west (outside Our Neighbourhood) is mostly agricultural. The remains of a Cross commemorating the battle is sited in the built-up area of Nevilles Cross and is a scheduled ancient monument. The battlefield is registered in the Register of Historic Battlefields.

Map 6: Map of Local Green Spaces


Here is a zoomable map of the Local Green Spaces.


4.81 The NPPF states that neighbourhood plans can “identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. … The designation should only be used: where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves; where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with policy for Green Belts.” (NPPF paras 76, 77, 78). Some of the areas designated here as local green spaces also possess other types of designation, e.g. being within the Green Belt or a conservation area or being a wildlife site or heritage asset. The NPPF states that land that is already protected can be designated as a Local Green Space if there is additional local benefit (PPG para. 010 and 011 Reference ID: 37-011-20140306). Different types of designation achieve different purposes. The areas listed here are of particular importance to the local community as the reasons given above demonstrate. Additionally, these areas are not as secure as their existing protections would imply. The development pressure in a small constrained area such as Our Neighbourhood is high. There is recent history of planning approvals for large scale developments in the Green Belt with predicted future plans for much more development in the Green Belt. In the Forum’s priority survey (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2015) respondents had high regard for the ‘woodland’ wedges bringing green space into the City, were concerned about loss of / lack of open and green spaces and threat to green belt, and wanted to protect green spaces/green belt and the environment.

4.82 New sites might become available in Our Neighbourhood that might merit designation as Local Green Spaces. This would require amendment of the Neighbourhood Plan. One such site is Mount Oswald. This formed part of an area of open space protected under saved Policy E5.2 of the City of Durham Local Plan (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a). The Mount Oswald site, previously a golf course, was land that had not been built on since the Middle Ages when it was agricultural land. It therefore contains assets of wildlife value including mature trees and a pond containing protected species. The current housing development on this site needs to be placed within the context of a long battle by local residents to retain this green space. The Mount Oswald site is currently being developed to a level greater than provided for in the City of Durham Local Plan. Open spaces retained within that development, including a complex of interconnected parks and open spaces (which retains and adds to the existing green assets) are therefore of particular importance to the local community and likely to warrant designation as a Local Green Space. As areas of open space in this development are being defined through a series of reserved matters applications, it isn’t possible to finalise boundaries at this time. Inclusion, and enhancement, of existing green assets within new developments is the aim of Policy G 1. New residential areas might include green areas that were planned as part of the development. Such green areas might be designated as Local Green Space if they are demonstrably special and hold particular local significance. (PPG, para. 012 Reference ID: 37-012-20140306).

Next section: Policy G3: Creation of the Emerald Network

10 Responses to Policy G2

  1. Ros Ward says:

    I consider that the University’s Botanical Gardens should be added as a Local Green Space. My reasons are: the botanical gardens are of natural interest being supported by the university in scientific and botanical research; the area contains many beautiful areas of woodland and open spaces which are attractive to residents and tourists throughout the year; and the gardens adjoin valued woodland with well used footpaths that connect to the historic setting of Durham City.

  2. Timothy Clark says:

    I strongly support this policy, as well as Mr Phillips’s observation about the desirability of adding Whinney Hill.

  3. Durham City Access For All Group says:

    Several of the Local Green Spaces mentioned in this policy are not accessible to some disabled people. These people are therefore not able to enjoy the acknowledged benefits they provide. More could and should be done to provide safe access to more of these valuable spaces, so that those benefits can be more widely shared by residents and visitors.

  4. Mathew Teale says:

    I support this policy but I don’t understand why some of the designated green spaces seem to end where there do. for example, the River Wear Corridor G.1.1.1 could be continued much further down-stream.

  5. Matthew Phillips says:

    Although it is not so well-used for walking as Observatory Hill, the top of Whinney Hill is accessible from a public footpath and is a significant viewpoint from the south-east of the city towards the World Heritage Site. I would support this being added as a local green space, but I am not sure whether it is already in green belt and whether designating it a local green space would give it added protection. The hill across from Whinney Hill, on the other side of the A177, which I think is called Mount Joy, also gives good views over the city, but does not have public access officially, though there are several well-worn paths over it. Most of the green spaces are woodland so it would be good to protect the few open spaces.

  6. Peter Reynolds says:

    I am definitely in favour of this policy and a commitment to protect the local green spaces.

  7. John Lowe says:

    Conversations with members of the public at drop-in events made be realise that we need to review the proposed local green spaces by comparing maps 6 and 7 together. Map 7 shows more green areas than map 6. In particular, people thought that the Botanic Gardens should be designated as a local green space.

  8. Ron Inglis says:

    We certainly recommend the use of the DLI Grounds once more, as a valuable public place, as well as a place of rememberance due to the ashes of Ex DLI Soldiers and families. We would welcome the use of the building to be used as an Art Gallery once again, but to also include the building back into a DLI Museum, which was originally why it was built. DCC will have us believe the building was not fit for purpose, we have the results of a survey they carried out in 2015 and it is. The amount of money that has been spent on displaying the few items from the Collection, the storage, the travelling exhibition is a disgrace and could have easily been spent on the original building.We are in a constant campaign and have had several meetings with DCC, to get justification for what has gone on between DCC, The Trustees of the Museum and now The University, to obtain a building where the whole collection is under ONE roof and not scattered around the County, and as the Museum still stands, it makes absolute sense, as well as solving a number of problems. We have met with Trustees, and Cllrs, including Cllr Henig, Cllr Johnson and Steven Howell, but unfortunately they do not see what the public is crying out for. This group seems to be wanting the same as our group, perhaps working together, we may convince the powers that be to listen to the public, instead of feeding us a load of rubbish. ON BEHALF OF THE FAITHFUL DURHAMS

  9. John Pacey says:

    POLICY G 2
    I strongly support this Policy and the Local Green Spaces listed.
    I note, however, that the Neighbourhood Plan appears to make little comment on the need for such spaces to be positively managed. Perhaps not the function of the Neighbourhood Plan?
    I agree with para.4.82 relating to possible new locations such as might emerge at Mount Oswald, for example.

  10. Cath says:

    The green spaces must remain- tempting as it may be to sell for development.
    More lighting along river bank is needed.