Planning Portal

Angela Smith Pledges To Protect Open Spaces

Published on Wed, 25 Feb 2004
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Angela Smith, MP, pledged to protect Open Spaces today when she issued a new planning policy statement on open space and outdoor recreation.
This will afford clear protection to existing open spaces, requires the creation of attractive new spaces in housing developments and seeks to promote greater opportunities for participation in sport and outdoor recreation.
Angela Smith said: "Open space is a key element of sustainable development. It brings so many benefits – for health, habitats and our overall quality of life. It provides areas for sport and play – an essential element in the development of our children. It provides green lungs and visual breaks in our cities and towns.
"Open space contributes positively to the character and appearance of the residential environment – the very place we live. It can also assist the development of tourism and help in attracting business, while new outdoor recreational activities in the countryside can assist the rural economy."
The Minister referred to growing public concern at the loss of open space to development and said: "The use of land for open space is no less important than any other use. It is a valuable resource – particularly for the young – and I recognise that once built upon, it is almost certainly lost to the community forever. I want to see open space kept and protected wherever possible. That is why I am introducing a clear presumption against its loss to other uses.
"When I talk of open space, I should point out that I am not just referring to parks, play areas and sports fields, but to all open space of public value. This includes the like of woodlands, river and canal banks, meadows, cemeteries and allotments.
"Given the clear benefits associated with open space, I also want to see new areas provided in the future. For developers this means they will need to deliver attractive and landscaped spaces as part of their proposals. This is addressed in more detail in the policy statement.
"My aim is that everyone should have easy access to open space and the opportunity to take exercise, participate in sport or simply relax and enjoy attractive surroundings.
"Finally, switching to my role as Minister for Health, I would particularly like to stress the positive contribution that open space, sport and recreation can make to health and the physical development of all – a key reason why it is so vital to protect and enhance our open spaces."

Notes to Editors

  1. DOE’s new policy is contained in Planning Policy Statement 8 entitled ‘Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation’. It embodies the Government's commitment to sustainable development, to the promotion of a more active and healthy lifestyle and to the conservation of biodiversity.
  2. Planning Policy Statements (PPS) set out the policies of the Department on particular aspects of land-use planning and other planning matters and apply to the whole of Northern Ireland. Their contents are taken into account as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals.
  3. PPS 8 can be accessed on this website and copies can be obtained also from Planning Service Headquarters, Clarence Court, 10-18 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8GB.
  4. For further information, contact Brian Kirk, DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0013, mobile 07767 362605, e-mail
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