Open spaces: to little and so very, very late

The Mail on Sunday today has launched a petition stop parks being sold off.

If only they had created it BEFORE the massive sell-off, instead of after.

But then Tory donor developers – who bought the parks – wouldn’t have liked it.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6273471/Petition-launched-rescue-open-spaces-sold-cash-strapped-councils.html

Beware council promises – an example from Teignbridge

“Plans for a new country park serving the 2,500 homes to be built on the edge of Exeter are being cut back, it has been claimed.

The 70-hectare park (173 acres) in the area of the new homes around the Devon Hotel is being dropped by Teignbridge District Council in favour of one that is much smaller, says local county councillor Alan Connett.

Cllr Connett says he has uncovered the council’s plan for a park less than two-thirds the size of the original plan, at 39 hectares (96 acres).

He said: “Teignbridge’s own Local Plan, which sets out how the district will develop over the next 20 years, promises a ‘ridge top park of approximately 70 hectares’. “However, we see yet again how the council promises the earth and then quietly changes the plan.”

In a confidential report going to Teignbridge Council’s Executive committee on Tuesday, October 2, Mr Connett said it was understood the ruling Conservative councillors would be asked to back a new, smaller countryside park for the South West of Exeter development.

Cllr Connett, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Teignbridge now wants to concentrate on a country park that is over a third smaller than it promised residents. “Much of the development at South West Exeter is, in fact, in the parish of Exminster, which will see an extra 2,000 houses within the community, and just 500 ‘over the border’ in Exeter.

“The ridge top park is seen as an essential part of the development not only to provide open space for the residents who will live in the new homes but also to take pressure off the Exe Estuary and reduce the number of visitors.

“This is another example of the planning system promising one thing but delivering less than that promise.

It was the council that put forward a country park of approximately 70 hectares but now, in a secret meeting not open to the Press or the public, and without any consultation, it plans to renege on that promise.

“This is why local people lose faith in the planning system and don’t believe councils when they say good quality community benefits will be gained from large scale housing developments.

“Of course, a park of 96 acres will still be a big space to walk dogs, enjoy picnics and family time together, but that is not the point. “The park will be part of the community for ever more, we hope, and it’s already being downsized.

“As Exeter and Teignbridge continue to grow in the years to come, future generations will come to regret that the Park was not the promised 70 hectares.

“Also, as a local councillor I am now gagged and prevented from saying more about what I have uncovered because the council has ensured all this is being discussed in private, in secret session.”

“Teignbridge says it is an ‘open and transparent’ council, but yet again we see it is anything but that. “It prefers to do its business and cut back on its promises in a private meeting which the public are not allowed to attend.”

A spokesman for Teignbridge Council said Teignbridge adopted its Local Plan in 2014 and at the time the Plan’s independent Inspector noted that the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace allocation at South West Exeter was sufficient to address the impacts planned development, as well as possible needs in the future.

He said: “The same year, a masterplan for South West Exeter was publicly consulted on and adopted by the Council.

“It explained that 36 hectares of the 70 hectare allocation were needed to accommodate planned development and that the allocation of the larger area therefore provided longer term flexibility.

“The additional provision to the total of 70 hectares indicated was put in there to provide greater flexibility for the countryside park to expand in the future.

“In all cases the land areas being talked about are significantly larger than Dawlish countryside park.”

Cllr Humphrey Clemens, Teignbridge’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing and Planning, said: “In line with council procedure, Cllr Connett has had the opportunity to raise any questions in advance of the Executive and I welcome the opportunity to have an open discussion with him during the meeting.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/devon-country-park-shrinks-2062679

Cranbrook Town Council and EDDC at loggerheads over “country park resource centre”

“A bid has been launched by Cranbrook Town Council (CTC) to halt the building of the new country park resource centre.

The move comes a month after permission was granted by district planning chiefs for the 135sqm centre on land west of Stone Barton.

However, a report by CTC clerk Sarah Jenkins said East Devon District Council (EDDC) went back on an ‘understanding’ to adopt the country park resource centre, which its country park ranger would use it as a base.

However, EDDC cite the ‘economic climate’ and ‘availability of local authority funding’ as the reason it prefers to merge a number of facilities into a single building.

In her report, Mrs Jenkins said: “Under the section 106 agreement (private agreements made between local authorities and developers), the Consortium are required to provide a country park resource centre, hence the recent planning application.

“At the time, there was an understanding that EDDC would adopt the centre and their country park ranger would use it as a base. Since then, EDDC has decided that it does not want to adopt the centre.”

In January this year, councillors at CTC resolved to agree in principle that it would take ownership of the centre direct from the Consortium, once it is delivered.

They also resolved to enter negotiations with EDDC to determine the future role of the country park ranger and their future employment arrangements.

But in her report, Mrs Jenkins said: “The country park ranger has since left and EDDC has made the decision not to recruit a replacement ranger.

“Having been faced with the EDDC withdrawal, the town council has indicated to the Consortium and EDDC that it may not wish to have resource centre.”

At a meeting last month, CTC resolved to request the centre is not built and that the function of the facility and country park ranger be accommodated instead in Cranbrook’s future town hall.

Councillors also resolved to request that the section 106 funding for the country park centre be transferred to the town to provide other ‘much-needed’ facilities.

A spokesperson for EDDC said: “The section 106 agreement that secures developer contributions and obligations in relation to the country park resource centre and other infrastructure at Cranbrook was originally signed in 2010.

“At the time, it was envisaged that the town would be served by a number of individual buildings to accommodate civic and community uses.

“When the original legal agreement was approved, EDDC had been indicated as taking ownership of the country park resource centre.

“In the absence of having responsibility over any part of the country park, that now sits with Cranbrook Town Council, it was decided to offer the asset to the town council for adoption.

“From April 2018, Cranbrook Town Council adopted the country park in the town and is now responsible for its management and maintenance.

“A building housing the permanent offices of Cranbrook Town Council (as well as the library) is envisaged to be built on land immediately south of the country park in the town centre, a location where many of the functions of a country park resource centre could be accommodated.

“The community space element of the previously proposed country park resource centre could be accommodated in another community building and this could be part-funded by some of the monies that would have otherwise been spent on the centre.

“The Cranbrook country park ranger had been employed by East Devon District Council but the ranger left post earlier in 2018 and before the end of the developer funding for the position.

“A new legal agreement to pass the remaining funding to Cranbrook Town Council to enable them to employ a ranger to manage the land they have adopted is under way.

“In the interim there is currently no Cranbrook country park ranger in post.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/council-launches-bid-to-block-build-of-cranbrook-s-country-park-resource-centre-1-5649550

“The UK’s Urban Parks Could Store As Much Carbon As A Tropical Rainforest”

“London’s Hampstead Heath isn’t just a great place to hang out in during the summer, it’s also a vital tool for preventing global warming.

According to a new study by University College London, the UK’s urban forests such as Hampstead Heath can actually store the same amount of carbon as a tropical rainforest.

The remarkable findings will be vital for city planners who are hoping to create the next generation of sustainable cities.

The study was carried out using airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by the UK Environment Agency, combined with ground-based LiDAR measurements.

Together the University was able to generate a map of the carbon stored in an estimated 85,000 trees in the London Borough of Camden.

Using that data they found that green areas such as Hampstead Heath were able to store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This is in comparison to the median value for rainforests which can store up to 190 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

“Urban trees are a vital resource for our cities that people walk past every day. We were able to map the size and shape of every tree in Camden, from forests in large parks to individual trees in back gardens.” Explained lead author of the study, Dr. Phil Wilkes….”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-uks-urban-parks-can-store-as-much-carbon-as-the-amazon-rainforest_uk_5b3213a7e4b0b5e692f12d9c?guccounter=1

Violence in Cranbrook – two attacks, including one in park

“A teenage girl has spoke of the moment a grown mum swore at and attacked her and her 14-year-old friend – while a group of children watch on.

The shocking clash, filmed by an eyewitness and shared publicly to Facebook, happened at a park next to St Martin’s Primary School, Cranbrook, just before 10pm on Friday.

The heavily-built woman and her friends loudly challenge a group of teenagers, snapping selfies against that evening’s striking sunset, in front of what appears to be their own children.

A row breaks out and the woman, wearing a flower-patterned dress, walks toward the group and shoves a 14-year-old girl before appearing to slap Angel Robinson, 17, in her face.

The force of the blow sees her knees buckle, as the park erupts with shouting and swearing.

Angel’s mum Sheena Robinson is fuming over the assault on a daughter who “would not hurt a fly” and weighs only six stone.

Speaking with Devon Live, Angel and her mum spoke of their anger and upset over the shocking incident – filmed by her friend Dayna, also confronted in the footage.

Angel said: “Basically, we were up the park and there was a family drinking vodka and wine and getting really, really drunk. “While we were stood taking selfies one of them started shouting at us.

“Another woman then gobbed off and started on Dayna. Then she whacks the 14-year-old. I went in and then she hits me.”

Angel says that, luckily, the swipe did not leave a mark on her.

For Angel, it proves that teenagers aren’t necessarily the cause of anti-social behaviour in the East Devon town.

“You see all over [Facebook community page] Belonging To Cranbrook complaints about teenagers and that we are the problem.

“But these were grown women. The parents are just as bad as the teenagers.”

Angel and her mum say the family at the table are not known to them, and it had been the first time Angel had encountered them at the park.

She says the incident won’t put her off returning with her mates.

Sheena says Devon & Cornwall Police have been made aware of the footage and are looking into the incident.

It wasn’t the only fight to break out in Cranbrook that evening.

Police were called to an altercation between two men at Great Meadow at 6.45pm.

A row led to one of them being shoved into a bush.

Police are using CCTV to help their enquiries.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/row-over-sunset-selfies-erupts-1711868

“‘Time running out’ for UK parks, government told”

“A coalition of countryside groups and environmentalists are calling on the government to protect the UK’s parks and green spaces which are at “crisis point” following years of swingeing budget cuts.

The group has today put forward a “Charter for Parks”which calls on ministers in England, Wales and Scotland to make it a legal requirement for all parks and green spaces to be maintained and managed to a “good standard.”

It also calls on them “to recognise the right of every citizen to have access within walking distance to a good-quality public green space.”

Dave Morris, Chair of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, said “time was running out” for the UK’s parks.

“Budget cuts to staffing and maintenance are leaving them vulnerable to neglect and deterioration, or even sell offs. Many people think local councils are legally responsible for maintaining local parks and open spaces but unfortunately, unlike waste collection, that’s not the case yet.”

He said the charter called on politicians “to take action to ensure these essential and highly-popular public resources are properly funded, managed, maintained, and protected for current and future generations.”

He added: “As the voice of the movement of more than 6,000 local Friends of Parks Groups throughout the UK we recognise the immense contribution that these community volunteers are playing. Now it’s time for government to show an equal commitment to act. The public will not forgive political leaders who let the sun set on the UK’s parks.” ….

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/21/time-running-out-for-uk-parks-government-told