Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments – new duties
Open spaces, green infrastructure and other outdoor places to play are key components in successful placemaking, helping to create pleasant, liveable, healthy and resilient communities. Considering access to quality open space, green infrastructure and play opportunities as a key part of placemaking can help realise our ambitions for delivering 20 minute neighbourhoods.
The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 introduced new duties on planning authorities to prepare and publish an Open Space Strategy and also to assess the sufficiency of play opportunities in their area for children. It inserted new sections 3G 'Open Space Strategy' and 16C 'Play Sufficiency Assessment' into the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
The Act provides details about the purpose of Open Space Strategies (OSS) and Play Sufficiency Assessments (PSA), and gives Scottish Ministers powers to prepare regulations concerning a range of detailed aspects. The Scottish Government has published a Consultation Paper which discusses the proposed provisions for the secondary legislation relating to the new statutory duties. These are set out in the proposed draft Town and Country Planning (Open Space Strategies) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 and draft Town and Country Planning (Play Sufficiency Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (the draft Regulations).
It is widely recognised there are clear links and many overlaps between planning for open spaces and play spaces. Therefore, whilst these are two distinct duties, a holistic and integrated approach has been adopted in preparing, and assessing the impacts of, the proposed provisions on OSS and PSA.
We hope this aligned approach will offer efficiency for authorities in terms of undertaking their audits and assessments of spaces and in fulfilling their responsibilities in terms of assessing spaces, consulting and publication, and vitally help to achieve wider benefits from taking a place-based approach when looking at the wider open space resource in an area.