Site Allocations Plan March 2016

Local Green Space

The Government, in its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) of March 2012, introduced a new designation called Local Green Space (LGS) enabling local communities, through local and neighbourhood plans, to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. ‘By designating land as Local Green Space, local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances’ (paragraph 76 of NPPF). 

Paragraph 77 of the NPPF states that the designation ‘will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space’ and should only be used where specified criteria would be met. It states that the designation should only be used where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves, is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of its wildlife, and is local in character and not an extensive tract of land. Paragraph 78 states that local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with the policy for Green Belts. The wording of the council’s Policy SA 7 on LGS reflects this, in referring to "very special circumstances”.

The council will carefully consider the nature of development proposals affecting LGS. It is possible that some development could be acceptable. For instance new/replacement facilities relating to the functions normally associated with LGS (such as recreation) or uses ancillary to such functions which might be expected to be found within LGS, might be considered acceptable, subject to factors such as scale, siting and design.

However development and uses unrelated to such functions, such as residential, would not normally be acceptable and would need to meet the exception test requiring “very special circumstances”.

The guidance in the NPPF is broad, and in preparing its Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft, North Somerset Council produced an initial Evidence Paper on LGS in February 2013, giving the council’s first attempt at local interpretation of the guidance. Having regard to that, the council proposed that various areas of green space be designated as LGS in the Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft.

In response to the public consultation on that plan in 2013, a number of responses concerning LGS sites were received, some commenting on the proposed areas of LGS, but most (largely from town and parish councils) suggesting further sites for possible designation as LGS. The council has now considered all the comments, reassessed all the proposed sites and also assessed the further sites which were suggested. In so doing the council has had regard to a Revised Evidence Paper on Local Green Space which it has produced, which takes account of further national Planning Practice Guidance on LGS. 

As a result, a list of LGS sites are proposed, with a justification for each, set out in Schedule 4 and identified on the Proposals Map.

In view of the new LGS designation, it is proposed that the Amenity Area designation, currently in the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan, be deleted when the Site Allocations Plan is adopted. However, many of the Amenity Areas currently identified and protected in the adopted North Somerset Replacement Local Plan are proposed for re-designation and protection as LGS. It is possible that Amenity Areas which are not proposed for LGS may still be eligible for protection under Policy SA 8 on undesignated green space, but this can only be determined when considering detailed development proposals.

POLICY SA 7: Local Green Space

Planning permission will not be granted except in very special circumstances for development which adversely affects a designated Local Green Space as shown on the Proposals Map and set out in Schedule 4, particularly regarding the characteristics underpinning its designation, such as beauty, historic importance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of wildlife.