Neighbourhood Plan blog post – landscape and green spaces theme
Ensuring Weymouth becomes a ‘resilient coastal community’ is taking shape with a Neighbourhood Plan consultation out now, which will put planning back into people’s control. We delve deeper into the main themes and some of the work that’s gone in to drafting the plan. First up, it’s landscape and green spaces written by Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group member Colin Marsh.
Colin says: “One of the few positives to come out of the pandemic was how the countryside, parks and open spaces really helped people’s mental and physical well-being during lockdown. In Weymouth we are fortunate to have many beautiful green spaces. And the value that people place on our natural environment has been a consistent message throughout the Neighbourhood Plan consultations to date.
“In the initial survey when asked about the feature people most liked about Weymouth, 93 per cent chose ‘the beaches and coast’, 83 per cent the ‘harbour’ and 64 per cent the ‘countryside and parks’ with specific reference made to the RSPB reserves and footpaths.
“In response to the second public consultation, nearly everyone – over 95 per cent – considered access to parks and gardens very important to their well-being and quality of life.
“One local group suggested ‘a greater need for open spaces near to where people live’ and noted ‘green spaces are vital to a healthy environment as well as creating a place where people want to live and work’.
“This feedback has shaped key aims around conserving and wherever possible enhancing our landscape and coast, wildlife habitat and connecting areas with footpaths, cycleways, and wildlife corridors.
“While development will continue to provide homes, jobs, shops, services and leisure facilities it must not adversely impact our environment. We need to get the balance right.
“And that’s why having a Neighbourhood Plan is so important. It enables residents to directly influence future planning in their local area.
“Whilst several areas like Radipole, Lodmoor and Lorton Meadows are already protected, a Neighbourhood Plan would enable this protection to be extended to smaller and potentially overlooked areas which are of great importance to local communities due to their recreational, wildlife and tranquillity value. Planners call this Local Green Space and providing national criteria are met such areas can be protected for future generations. The public response to identifying local green space has been magnificent with 48 spaces protected for future generations.
“Examples include Castle Cove, St. John’s Gardens and Westmacott Green Space for their recreational value; Wey Valley Water meadows and the copse at Oakbury Drive for their wildlife value; and Bradford Road Green and Links Road Open Space for their amenity value.
“The seven sites already adopted in the Sutton Poyntz Neighbourhood Plan will also be incorporated.
“Whilst a robust form of protection this will not apply to all areas and so we will seek to conserve and enhance our landscape and coast through specific policies such as those proposed on sites of nature importance, retention of trees and hedgerows, incidental open spaces, cliff top sites, rights of way and riversides.
“Many people have concerns about communities losing their unique identities as residential developments grow and areas merge together. Draft policies therefore propose maintaining gaps between communities which would allow people to continue to enjoy the benefits of accessing the countryside while protecting wildlife habitats and corridors at the same time.
“The Neighbourhood Plan provides a once in a generation opportunity for local people to influence local planning decisions which will affect their future and those of future generations. So please give your feedback on the plan by completing this short survey by the closing date of 5pm on Friday 8th December, and make sure your voice is heard! Or come along to one of the engagement events and ask the Steering Group questions about the plan.”
Bowleaze Cove, nominated as a favourite view of residents in an earlier round of engagement on the plan.