Agenda item

Guest presentation - equitable distribution of accessible natural greenspace in Oxfordshire

Martha Crockatt from the Leverhulme Centre to give a presentation on her report.  The Board is asked to consider how the partnership can support delivery of the recommendations.


Dr Martha Crockatt, from the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery at the University of Oxford gave a presentation on a project examining the equitable distribution of accessible green space within Oxfordshire. The aim of the desk-based project had been to identify neighbourhoods experiencing both social economic deprivation and poor provision of accessible green space within the county to help inform thinking of how neighbourhoods might be prioritised for improvements to accessible green space covering planning, allocation of funding and effort.


The report had concluded that 16 neighbourhoods across Oxfordshire had not met multiple criteria regarding accessible green space although it was stressed that the report needed to be used alongside local knowledge.


Recommendations were as follows:


·           In collaboration with local communities, increase knowledge of accessible greenspace before taking action.

·           Consider diversity within and between accessible greenspaces, in terms of both biodiversity and diversity of function.

·           Protect existing accessible greenspaces, while looking for innovative opportunities to increase the quantity of accessible greenspace;

·           Explore green infrastructure opportunities to increase neighbourhood “greenness”.

·           Increase connectivity of accessible greenspace for nature and people.

·           Ensure policy instruments support development to have a positive gain on accessible greenspace.

·           Investigate the potential for an Oxfordshire sub-regional publicly accessible greenspace (> 500 ha) that is accessible by active travel and public transport.


Following the presentation, a detailed discussion took place and members of the Board asked a few specific questions. The Chair asked the Board to consider what it might do with the research to inform decisions. He suggested that work on the Local Nature Recovery Strategy should be informed by it.


Points coming out of the discussion included:


·           The importance of facilitating connectivity between existing green spaces, not only in terms of biodiversity, but also to facilitate public access.

·           The issue was more nuanced than just the creation of more ‘green spaces’ in the county. Examples were given of areas of green spaces, some provided by developers because of major development which were technically green spaces, but which were completely inaccessible. It was on accessibility that more needed to be done.

·           It was suggested that local authorities needed to assess the amount and location of accessible green space in their areas and feeding that into negotiations with developers which might lead to developers making a financial contribution to enable existing green space to become more accessible rather asking them to provide additional green space direct.

·           Could facilities such as community gardens potentially be considered to be accessible green space, even if they involved for example reuse of car parks etc? Would they meet other criteria around health outcomes as part of a wider mix of objectives.

·           In targeting actions from the study, it would be necessary to agree the defining criteria. For instance, should it be the amount of green space or quality of the green space?

·           Previous studies undertaken in the North Cotswold area mapping indices of deprivation had also identified that those who stood to gain the most from access to green spaces were often the least able to do so.

·           Natural England had started a search for a new National Park and both the Cotswolds and Chilterns were possible areas for consideration. Analysis of communities that needed access to green space but whom were not currently benefiting from it was likely to be a consideration in that process.

·           It was noted that traditionally Oxfordshire had not developed a network of country parks in contrast to some other county area, most likely because of the associated costs. However, the downside of this was around now around accessibility.

·           The report was an important piece of evidence that should inform local plan formation once published and there should be discussion at that point on how it recommendation might be taken forward and by whom.

·           There was a need to consult with the public so decision makers could understand what kind of accessible green space people wanted.


The Chair concluded the discussion by suggesting that there the research should be shared with DEFRA as part of current discussions.

Supporting documents:

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