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How far should Oxford residents need to go to get to a Green Space?

Tuesday, 05 February 2013 09:27

Oxford's South Park Oxford's South Park Photo: © Jane Tomlinson
CPRE Oxford is urging Oxford City Council to give residents access to green space within 300 metres of their home, in line with national best practice guidelines.
The Oxford Green Spaces Strategy is to be presented to the City’s Executive Board on 13 February.   It currently says that the local people should not have to walk more than 400m to their nearest small park.
However, Dr Sarah Milliken of CPRE Oxford said: “Natural England’s Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)[1] recommends that everyone should have access to a quality natural green space of at least 2 hectares within 300 metres (5 minutes’ walk) from their home. The distance thresholds used in ANGSt are not arbitrary: they are based on what studies have revealed about people’s actual behaviour. For example, it is known that the majority of parents are unwilling to allow their children to be unaccompanied more than 300 metres from home. Although local circumstances may lead to variations on this distance, adopting this as a standard would help ensure that the majority of Oxford children do indeed have a green space near their home, which they are able to use freely.”
Dr Sietske Boeles, Chair of CPRE Oxford, said: “Residents in some parts of the city such as Blackbird Leys and Littlemore have much less access to green space, which has a knock on effect on people’s health and well-being.  This situation will get worse when all the planned development is completed. For example the planned new park at Minchery Farm East, between Blackbird Leys and Littlemore, can no longer be brought forward due to recent amendments in the City’s Sites and Housing Plan.
“One possibility is for the cty to open up some of the land it owns South of Grenoble Road for public access, including for food production, which would be compatible with Green Belt policies.”
CPRE Oxford criticised an earlier draft of the Green Spaces strategy for not including an up to date audit of current green spaces.  This has now been addressed which the group welcomes.
However, other issues of concern remain, such as:
  • Why is Port Meadow, a Special Area of Conservation, not scheduled to have a management plan until 2020?
  • How will the City look after its Rights of Way now that the County Council has withdrawn most of the funding for this and is seeking help from voluntary groups for footpath maintenance?
  • Why is there no standard set for the provision of allotments, in line with national guidance?
[1] ‘Nature Nearby’: Accessible Natural Greenspace Guidance (Natural England 2010)
A copy of the proposed Green Spaces Strategy is available here.  


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