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PPS 8: Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation

1.1 Open space, sport and outdoor recreation are important components of life. They provide many cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits and contribute positively to physical and mental health and a better quality of life. The Government considers everyone, particularly children, the elderly and those with disabilities, should have easy access to open space and the opportunity to participate in sport and outdoor recreational pursuits.
1.2 Sport has been defined as “all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships, or obtaining results in competitions at all levels” (Council of Europe 1992 Opens link in a new browser window). Participation in sport and outdoor recreation facilitates good health and physical development. It can also help foster a strong sense of civic pride and assist cross community relations.
1.3 Open space, for the purposes of this Statement, is defined as all open space of public value. The definition includes not just outdoor sports facilities, parks and gardens, amenity green space and children’s play areas, but also natural and semi-natural urban green spaces, allotments, cemeteries, green corridors and civic spaces. It includes not just land, but also inland bodies of water that offer important opportunities for sport and outdoor recreation and which can also act as a visual amenity. Further information on the range of open space of public value is set out in Annex A.
1.4 Open space can serve different needs depending on its size, location, accessibility, landscape design and facilities. For example, it is often the case that larger open spaces in urban areas successfully combine provision for physical recreation such as sports pitches and children’s play areas with amenity open space used by people primarily for exercise and relaxation purposes.
1.5 Open space, whether or not there is public access to it, is important for its contribution to the quality of urban life by providing important green lungs, visual breaks and wildlife habitats in built-up areas. Open space can enhance the character of residential areas, civic buildings, conservation areas, listed buildings and archaeological sites. It can also help to attract business and tourism and thereby contribute to the process of urban regeneration. The use being made of the countryside for a range of sporting and outdoor recreational activities, particularly where these are associated with farm diversification, can contribute to the process of rural regeneration and help promote natural resource tourism.
1.6 For all these reasons, the Government attaches great importance to the retention of our existing open spaces, the creation of attractive new spaces and the promotion of more opportunities to participate in sport and outdoor recreation in the future.
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