Planning Advice Note 65: Planning and open space

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.

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10. The term 'open space' covers greenspace consisting of any vegetated land or structure, water, path or geological feature within and on the edges of settlements, and civic space consisting of squares, market places and other paved or hard landscaped areas with a civic function. Some spaces may combine green and civic space elements, but one type or other will usually predominate. This advice note focuses on green space, but touches on civic space.

11. A typology of spaces can be useful in preparing open space strategies and in setting development plan policies. Local authorities should make use of the typology in Table 1 as a starting point for auditing open space but may also consider whether some categories require further classification. Appendix 1 contains an example of further classification, based on an approach adopted by many local authorities in collaboration with Greenspace Scotland.

12. Open space may serve a range of functions and some areas, particularly informal spaces, may not fit neatly into the typology. An appreciation of the hierarchy of open spaces can help councils to understand the different functions they perform and distinguish between spaces of strategic, local and neighbourhood importance. This should be tailored to fit local circumstances, and is usually most applicable to parks, greenspaces and woodland areas. Criteria linking population catchments to the size of different spaces and sensible distance or time thresholds can be included, helping to ensure that spaces of different types, functions and sizes are easily accessible to the communities they serve.

13. All spaces, regardless of ownership and accessibility ( i.e. public and private spaces) contribute to the amenity and character of an area and can be taken into account by councils when undertaking their open space audits and strategies.

Table 1: Types of Open Space



Public parks and gardens

Areas of land normally enclosed, designed, constructed, managed and maintained as a public park or garden. These may be owned or managed by community groups.

Private gardens or grounds

Areas of land normally enclosed and associated with a house or institution and reserved for private use.

Amenity greenspace

Landscaped areas providing visual amenity or separating different buildings or land uses for environmental, visual or safety reasons and used for a variety of informal or social activities such as sunbathing, picnics or kickabouts.

Playspace for children and teenagers

Areas providing safe and accessible opportunities for children's play, usually linked to housing areas.

Sports areas

Large and generally flat areas of grassland or specially designed surfaces, used primarily for designated sports (including playing fields, golf courses, tennis courts and bowling greens) and which are generally bookable.

Green corridors

Routes including canals, river corridors and old railway lines, linking different areas within a town or city as part of a designated and managed network and used for walking, cycling or horse riding, or linking towns and cities to their surrounding countryside or country parks. These may link green spaces together.

Natural/semi-natural greenspaces

Areas of undeveloped or previously developed land with residual natural habitats or which have been planted or colonised by vegetation and wildlife, including woodland and wetland areas.

Allotments and community growing spaces

Areas of land for growing fruit, vegetables and other plants, either in individual allotments or as a community activity.

Civic space

Squares, streets and waterfront promenades, predominantly of hard landscaping that provide a focus for pedestrian activity and can make connections for people and for wildlife.

Burial grounds

Includes churchyards and cemeteries.

Other functional greenspace

May be one or more types as required by local circumstances or priorities.


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