Policy C5: Protection of Urban Open Spaces
C5.1: A development proposal of 0.4 hectares or 12 housing units (or equivalent), or greater, will be supported if:
- it provides additional good quality urban open space on site for new and existing residents’ needs; or
- the provision of urban open space is appropriate to the context, having regard to the landscape, townscape and ecology of the locality and where appropriate the setting of heritage assets, and is well designed, or
- it addresses deficiencies of urban open spaces within Our Neighbourhood.
C5.2: A development proposal that would result in the loss of existing urban open spaces will be refused unless:
- the affected site or feature or asset does not have a significant recreational, cultural, ecological, landscape or townscape value; or
- the affected site or asset can be demonstrated to be surplus to local requirements (with e.g. reference to the current Open Space Needs Assessment); and
- a compensatory amount of urban open space of an equivalent or better quality can be provided within easy walking distance.
Justification for Policies C3, C4 and C5
4.246 Urban open spaces include civic spaces, such as market squares, hard surfaced areas designed for pedestrians, open areas within a development, play grounds and outdoor sports facilities. This policy complements green infrastructure Policy G1 which covers green open spaces as a green asset. The NPPF states the importance of open space of public value as it provides health and recreation values to people living and working in the vicinity, and to visitors (NPPF para. 70, 73 and 74; PPG ID: 37, para. 001 to 003, 014). Saved policies of the City of Durham Local Plan are also relevant (City of Durham Council, 2004; Durham County Council, 2015a: E5, Q8, R1). The County Durham Green Infrastructure Strategy (Durham County Council, 2012b) recommends that existing public open spaces should be protected, new development should contain sufficient open space for new and existing residents’ needs and open spaces should be of good-quality, attractive and functional. A key document is the ‘County Durham Open Space, Sport and Recreation Needs Assessment’ (2016b; currently being updated – previous versions Durham County Council, 2010a,b). This document assesses open space, sport and recreation facilities in County Durham by: identifying local needs; auditing local provision and assessing this against quality, quantity and access standards. Public open spaces are used by a range of different people for different purposes. A well-designed open space should be located near to the community it serves, have connectivity, be accessible, flexible in meeting different needs, adaptable to meet future needs, welcoming, safe and secure, clean and well maintained. (CABE Space, 2007) CABE, The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, was the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space from 1999 to 2011.
4.247 The complementary ‘Playing Pitch Strategy’ (Durham County Council, 2011a, 2012c) contains an audit of provision and aims to ensure that the quantity and quality of playing pitches and accessibility of playing pitches meets the needs of the local population now and in the future. Policy recommendations for the Durham City Area Action Partnership (which is wider than Our Neighbourhood) include:
- Safeguard existing playing fields: as there is an overall sufficient supply of pitches in Durham City decisions must be made about which pitches to safeguard
- Obtain contributions towards off site or on-site provision of playing pitches from all housing developments: As, in general, supply is good, but quality is poor in Durham City, this contribution could be in the form of investment in the existing stock (i.e. off site contributions)
- Secure community use of educational facilities
- Develop new, and support existing, multi pitch/ multi sport ‘hub’ sites
- Improve the quality of pitches
Next section: Policy C6: Health Care and Social Care Facilities