Open Space Audits and Strategies

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SNH has hosted a ‘Sharing Good Practice’ event focussing on two separate pieces of research funded by SNH: the review of Open Space Audits and Strategies by Land Use Consultants (LUC), and the research by greenspace scotland (GS) on developing open space standards.

The event featured presentations by LUC and GS, along with case studies from City of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dumfries & Galloway planning authorities. A series of workshop discussions also considered the implications of the new guidance.

Key points emerging were:

(the first three points relate to GS research)
1. concerns regarding the application of existing standards – which can be seen as inequitable, unrealistic, open to misinterpretation; and also concerns raised regarding the types/form of open space being delivered (e,g, ‘leftover’ green space that isn’t positively designed into a development)

2. open space standards within the new generation of audit will include ‘accessibility’ (networked) and ‘qualitative’ considerations, in addition to the original ‘quantitative’ assessment

3. a need to balance a ‘standards approach’ (or ‘guidelines’?) with a ‘design-led approach’ (tailored to specifics of context)

4. a sense of opportunity to link Open Space with wider policy agendas (e.g. Christie Commission; making the best use of what exists; achieving multi-functional benefits)

5. a challenge of working towards a ‘vision’ – what do you want to achieve? it’s not just a case of carrying out an audit or gathering data – what do you do with it!

6. a need for corporate ownership and action / overcoming silo mentality – open space is not the responsibility solely of ‘parks departments’!

7. possible lead role for community planning, and link with SOA – shared ownership and maintenance? perhaps social enterprise business opportunities?

8. ‘open space / green’ issues are emotive and value laden – a good point to engage communities in thinking about the future of their place

9. open space strategies need to link with delivery and funding mechanisms

10. the need to signpost the considerable guidance that currently exists; link with knowledge exchange networks; transfer skills, understanding and capacity building

A key conclusion was that open space strategies cannot be divorced from good placemaking. As part of the wider discussion reference was made to the recent launch of Creating Places, along with Designing Streets and the need for good streets / public realm as part of a wider consideration of what ‘public open space’ should include.

Footnote: A&DS has been working closely with SNH to deliver the sustainable placemaking programme and an associated stand / presentation at the event attracted a lot of interest during the breaks, with several authorities expressing interest in the programme.


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