Publication - Publication

Planning Advice Note 65: Planning and open space

Published: 2 Jun 2008

Planning Advice Note (PAN) 65 provides advice on the role of the planning system in protecting and enhancing existing open spaces and providing high quality new spaces.

28 page PDF

187.0 kB

28 page PDF

187.0 kB

Planning Advice Note 65: Planning and open space

28 page PDF

187.0 kB


43. Both SPP 11 and Designing Places emphasise that arrangements for management and maintenance will be essential to the quality of the open space environment. Design should take into account the way spaces are likely to be maintained in the future. Open space maintenance relates to a set of defined tasks that aim to preserve the condition of spaces, while management of the resource suggests a long-term perspective, with flexibility to respond to a range of issues such as community needs, local involvement, improving access for particular groups, biodiversity needs, quality, safety and competing uses. It is therefore important that effective links are made between open space planning, design and management.

44. Empowering communities to get involved in the design, management and ongoing maintenance of open spaces can help the community to take pride in the ownership of spaces, and reduce vandalism of facilities and anti-social behaviour. Organisations established to promote community capacity building might use open space provision or enhancement as the vehicle to achieve it.

45. The planning system has limited control over open space maintenance. But it can, however, make provision for maintenance through planning conditions or agreements on planning consents ensuring the provision of new or improved open space as part of development proposals. Maintenance issues must be considered during assessment of development proposals, particularly during pre-application discussions. Particularly for areas of common open space within new housing developments, long-term arrangements should be agreed before consent is issued and should set out clearly the responsibilities of the property owners and any factor or other parties involved.

46. Councils should work with developers and other bodies to seek the best mechanisms and funding for the long-term maintenance of new open spaces. A number of options are set out below.

  • Setting up a residents' association with factoring arrangements.

    Developers may wish to hand over the cost of maintaining open space to the residents of a new development. Where this is clearly set out in the sale agreement, new residents effectively share the cost of maintaining the open space, usually on an annual basis. A factor can then be appointed to carry out the necessary work.
  • Developer/owners handing over the title to new areas of open space to the local authority, usually with a commuted sum with which the local authority can fund future maintenance.

    By agreeing an appropriate commuted sum with the developer, the local authority may agree to take over ownership and future maintenance of new open spaces in housing or commercial developments.
  • Councils or developers making arrangements with a suitable third party for long-term maintenance.

    Examples of such third parties can include commercial grounds maintenance companies, local amenity organisations and environmental trusts.

Parks and open spaces in Glasgow

Glasgow City Council's Parks and Open Spaces Strategy has helped to support a more natural approach to maintenance through pond naturalisation projects and a review of grass maintenance. While a number of ponds have been retained for model boating, some have been turned into semi-natural ponds with reduced maintenance requirements by introducing aquatic plants, wildflowers and islands. Barley straw has helped to reduce toxicity from algae. The Council's Grassland Management Review has helped to identify the most appropriate maintenance routine for different greenspaces based on the potential for spaces to provide a more diverse natural habitat. Grass cutting can be stopped or reduced to only once or twice a year, providing a richer environment which can bring natural heritage and financial benefits. Glasgow City Council is now working to incorporate the Parks and Open Spaces Strategy into a wider Open Space Strategy based on SPP 11.

47. Councils have an important role in ensuring that the existing spaces in their area are maintained to a good standard and enhanced where possible. They might also consider the scope for offering communities and the voluntary sector opportunities to become involved in management and maintenance. Some options are suggested below

  • Facilitating a community to arrange management themselves, with support or appropriate funding from the local authority.

    Initiatives such as Management Trusts or 'Friends' schemes are popular. 'Friends' are local residents, visitors and even one-off tourists who have made financial pledges or committed time to help maintain a space.
  • Encouraging local businesses to contribute to local open space maintenance and environmental improvement initiatives.

    Initiatives such as Britain in Bloom can bring together local volunteers and businesses to sponsor improvements to the appearance of towns and cities. Committees may be able to attract additional funding, for example, from the Landfill Communities Fund. There may be opportunities for local businesses to fund open space maintenance by sponsoring green and civic spaces.

    Business Improvement Districts ( BID) are a proven business led strategy, normally a partnership with the local authority, which delivers projects and services that have been identified by the local businesses and are additional to services delivered by the public sector. The BID projects and services are financed by an investment levy agreed by ballot and paid by all businesses that benefit from the improvement in their business environment and the local economy. Examples could include enhancements to local civic and amenity space.

Tollcross Park, Glasgow

Identified in Glasgow City Council's Parks and Open Spaces strategy as a District Park, Tollcross Park was successful in securing funding for restoration from Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The restoration of much of the original design highlights a number of distinct zones, e.g. the Winter Garden and Ornamental Parkland, the bowling greens and a sports area. The regeneration of the park involved the creation of new formal garden areas, a new café and a multi-purpose space. The local Development Officer successfully initiated a Friends scheme that has been instrumental in promoting the park and organising events, helping to secure the park's viability.

Greenhead Moss Community Trust

The Greenhead Moss Community Trust is a community led partnership that manages Greenhead Moss Community Nature Park in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire. The Park lies on the site of former opencast coal and landfill operations. The 110 hectare site has been restored into an attractive community resource which supports local biodiversity, public access and a wide range of community uses and activities.

The Trust was established in 1999 and brings together local people and key agencies in the development and management of the park. The Trust provides a range of volunteering and training opportunities, environmental education programmes, regular health walks and community events for all ages and abilities. The Trust oversees a range of practical activities and projects to maintain the site and improve access and biodiversity, including a visitor centre in the form of an 'Earthship' to be built using recycled and re-used materials.

Greenhead Moss is an excellent example of community greenspace action, where local people lead development and decision making processes. Importantly, the park is actively managed to respond to local community needs. It provides a health, education and social resource for individuals and a range of interest groups and works with them to promote and improve local biodiversity.