The open space strategy sets out how Gloucester City Council plans to protect, manage and enhance
its open spaces over the next five years and beyond.
Purpose of the Open Space Strategy
The strategy has a threefold purpose, it provides;
• a sound body of evidence for developing robust, sustainable open space policies within the proposed City Plan;
• a series of objectives for council officers and partner organisations to work towards and;
• a clear understanding, for city residents, of the city council’s open space aspirations and open space priorities, including opportunities for residents to get involved in caring for their local green spaces.
The importance of green space
The contribution that good quality, safe and accessible open spaces can make to the overall quality of life within a community is well documented. There are numerous health, social, cultural,
environmental and educational benefits.
The city has a wide range of open spaces including natural wild space, formal sports grounds, parks and play areas. It’s important that there is a clear and sustainable plan for looking after all of these spaces, to ensure their long-term protection, care and enhancement.
Key facts about Gloucester’s open spaces
• There are over 200 areas of public open space in the city, including formal and informal green spaces, allotments, cemeteries, Robinswood Hill Country Park and Alney Island Nature Reserve, a total open space area of over 550 hectares.
• There are six designated Local Nature Reserves (LNR) and two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the city.
• Almost 14% of the city’s total land area is publicly accessible green space.
• The Council maintains seventy-five playgrounds, skateparks and multi-use games areas (MUGAs) in the Gloucester. There are also a further 6 public play areas which are managed by other organisations. Over £750k has been invested in upgrading play areas between 2014-2019.
• There are some larger sports grounds and facilities that serve the city as a whole, such as the Oxstalls Sports Centre/Plock Court outdoor pitches and Blackbridge Jubilee Athletics track.
• Between April 2014 (when the previous strategy was adopted) and October 2019, the council has secured, through the planning process, an additional 15 hectares of new open space and over £2million for improvements to existing parks and open spaces across the city.
Key themes of the Open Space Strategy
The document assesses the existing quality and quantity of open space provision within the city. In terms of overall open space provision, it identifies that the distribution of open space across the city is adequate, but rather uneven.
Due to the densely built-up nature of many of the city’s residential areas, creating additional new open spaces where there are shortfalls will not be possible. Instead the strategy seeks to improve the quality of facilities and accessibility to existing green spaces, as well as providing residents with plenty of information about parks and recreational opportunities in adjacent areas.
Since the publication of Gloucester’s previous Open Space Strategy in 2014, climate change and loss of biodiversity have become increasingly important issues. This updated strategy contains measures which seek to enhance the contribution that Gloucester’s green spaces make to mitigating the effects of climate change and increase the provision of habitat for wildlife.
Ensuring the city’s green spaces are managed and maintained cost effectively and using sustainable practices, is also vital. Inviting the community to help look after some open spaces is important and helps residents develop a sense of ownership and pride in their local parks.
Although many are not directly under the city council’s control, protection of playing fields and outdoor sports facilities is also a key priority. Ensuring the council has robust planning policies to protect or mitigate against the loss of open spaces to potential development sites and ensuring there is sufficient new open space provision falls within the remit of this strategy, in conjunction with policies set out in the Gloucester City Plan and the Joint Core Strategy for Gloucester, Cheltenham
Funding the improvements
Council budgets for the management and improvement of open space are limited, so careful consideration must be given to ensure that any works carried out are affordable and sustainable in
the long term.
The strategy acknowledges that although funding is limited, there are still opportunities for the council to work with partners, groups and volunteers to deliver safe, active and well managed
spaces. Sources of additional external funding will also be secured where possible, including through the planning process.
Gloucester City Council is committed to providing an integrated network of safe, accessible parks and green spaces, where biodiversity and the natural environment are protected and enhanced, and
appropriate, high quality, facilities are provided.
Gloucester City Council Open Space Strategy 2020-2025 Executive Summary