Policy 7.18 Protecting open space and addressing deficiency



A  The Mayor supports the creation of new open space in London to ensure satisfactory levels of local provision to address areas of deficiency.

Planning decisions

B  The loss of protected open spaces must be resisted unless equivalent or better quality provision is made within the local catchment area. Replacement of one type of open space with another is unacceptable unless an up to date needs assessment shows that this would be appropriate.

LDF preparation

C  When assessing local open space needs LDFs should:

a   include appropriate designations and policies for the protection open space to address deficiencies

b   identify areas of open space deficiency, using the open space categorisation set out in Table 7.2 as a benchmark for all the different types of open space identified therein

c   ensure that future publically accessible open space needs are planned for in areas with the potential for substantial change such as opportunity areas, regeneration areas, intensification areas and other local areas.

d   ensure that open space needs are planned in accordance with green infrastructure strategies to deliver multiple benefits.

D  Boroughs should undertake audits of all forms of open space and assessments of need[1]. These should be both qualitative and quantitative, and have regard to the cross-borough nature and use of many of these open spaces.

[1]     National Planning Policy Framework DCLG March 2012 paras 73 and 74

Supporting text

7.57  As part of London’s multifunctional green infrastructure, local open spaces are key to many issues, such as health and biodiversity. Needs assessments can be part of existing borough strategies on issues such as allotments, play, trees and playing pitches and the preparation of a green infrastructure strategy will need to bring together the outputs of these borough strategies. The categorisation of open space in Table 7.2 provides a benchmark for boroughs to assess their own provision for the different categories of open space found throughout London. These standards can be used to highlight areas of open space deficiency and to facilitate cross-borough planning and management of open space. The London Parks and Green Spaces Forum can provide a useful mechanism to support this co-ordination. Cross-borough boundary planning is particularly relevant for the larger metropolitan and regional parks and for facilities such as playing pitches, where a sub-regional approach to planning is recommended.


Table 7.2 Public open space categorisation

Open Space categorisation



Distances from homes

Regional Parks

Large areas, corridors or networks of open space, the majority of which will be publicly accessible and provide a range of facilities and features offering recreational, ecological, landscape, cultural or green infrastructure benefits. Offer a combination of facilities and features that are unique within London, are readily accessible by public transport and are managed to meet best practice quality standards.

400 hectares

3.2 to 8 kilometres

Metropolitan Parks

Large areas of open space that provide a similar range of benefits to Regional Parks and offer a combination of facilities at a sub-regional level, are readily accessible by public transport and are managed to meet best practice quality standards.

60 hectares

3.2 kilometres

District Parks

Large areas of open space that provide a landscape setting with a variety of natural features providing a wide range of activities, including outdoor sports facilities and playing fields, children’s play for different age groups and informal recreation pursuits.

20 hectares

1.2 kilometres

Local Parks and Open Spaces

Providing for court games, children’s play, sitting out areas and nature conservation areas.

2 hectares

400 metres

Small Open Spaces

Gardens, sitting out areas, children’s play spaces or other areas of a specialist nature, including nature conservation areas.

Under 2 hectares

Less than 400 metres

Pocket Parks

Small areas of open space that provide natural surfaces and shaded areas for informal play and passive recreation that sometimes have seating and play equipment.

Under 0.4

Less than 400 metres

Linear Open Spaces

Open spaces and towpaths alongside the Thames, canals and other waterways; paths, disused railways; nature conservation areas; and other routes that provide opportunities for informal recreation. Often characterised by features or attractive areas which are not fully accessible to the public but contribute to the enjoyment of the space.


Wherever feasible

Source:            GLA 2011

7.58  The value of green infrastructure not designated as local open space is considered to be a material consideration that needs to be taken into account in the planning process. These values are set out in Policy 2.18 on green infrastructure.

7.58A  Neighbourhoods may identify Local Green Spaces that are important to them, local in character and small-scale. The policy for controlling development on them is Green Belt policy[1], as such Local Green Spaces are not included in Table 7.2 above.

[1]    National Planning Policy Framework DCLG March 2012 paras 76-78

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