Cherish your ‘local green space’ and take part in consultation

Have you taken part in the council’s consultation over green spaces

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Less than two years after Croydon’s Local Plan was signed off by government officials, and the council is running a new consultation that looks to change it. PETER UNDERWOOD, right, explains how it is important that as many residents as possible take part to help protect our parks, graveyards and open spaces

Many of you will remember the last-minute rush at the end of 2017 to try to get green spaces protected in the Croydon Local Plan. Although the Council had had years to put together the plan, it turned out it had not provided all of the evidence needed to properly protect all of our green spaces.

Then residents were left with just a couple of weeks to respond to the consultation on the draft plan and, despite their best efforts, the council was not able to put the evidence forward in a way to convince the planning inspector to grant these places the protection of being designated a “Local Green Space”. Croydon’s applications for protections were dismissed by the planning inspector.

The council has recently announced that they are beginning the process of reviewing the Local Plan. Even though the plan is not due for review until 2022, the council has yet again given residents only a couple of weeks to provide all the evidence needed to protect green spaces. The council’s consultation closes on July 22.

Given the council’s recent practice of handing over every grass verge and street corner to Brick by Brick and allowing them to fill them up with luxury flats, a cynic might suggest that they don’t want to give residents too much time, otherwise we might come up with enough evidence to protect our green spaces and prevent them being built on.

Therefore I would encourage everyone to respond to the consultation survey for all of your local green spaces, and as soon as possible.

The survey falls into two parts.

There’s plenty of green spaces to provide support for in the council consultation

First, you can select one of the green spaces from the list that the council has drawn up.

These cover more than 50 green spaces, from Stambourne Woodland Walk in the north to Coulsdon Coppice in the south. Many of these sites have active Friends groups and I would encourage all of those groups to alert their members to the need to complete the survey. If you go through this option, there are fewer than 10 questions to answer in order to explain why a particular site is important to you.

If you can’t find your green space on the council’s list, it may be one of the sites that already has other protection, for example, Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, or a site of special scientific interest. But if you have any doubt, then the second option in the survey is to nominate a green space yourself.

In this part of the survey, apart from asking for your details, the survey only asks you the location of the site and “why you think it matches the criteria”.

Unfortunately (or deliberately), the council consultation doesn’t tell you what the criteria are.

So, to make it easier for you to complete this part, we can outline what those criteria are here. An area qualifies for designation as “Local Green Space” under the three critical criteria:

  • it’s reasonably close to the community it services;
  • demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular significance, for example, because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
  • local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

So when completing this part of the survey, make sure you list your reasons why it qualifies under these criteria.

Whatever our views on the council’s planning policies, this is our opportunity to feed into the process and make clear why we want our green spaces protected from development.

So please share this with everyone you know so we can all save what’s left of green Croydon.

  • Peter Underwood works with Croydon’s conservation volunteers and is a member of Croydon Friends of the Earth. He is the Green Party’s candidate for Croydon and Sutton in the 2020 London Assembly elections

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