Policy SE 6: Green Infrastructure
Cheshire East aims to deliver a good quality, and accessible network of green spaces for people to enjoy, providing for healthy recreation and biodiversity and continuing to provide a range of social, economic and health benefits. This will be done by:
- Linking the various assets of Cheshire East’s unique landscape – its upland fringes, Cheshire Plain, lowland heath, parkland estates, rivers, canals and watercourses, valleys and cloughs, meres and mosses, trees and woodland and wildlife habitats and its distinctive towns and villages and their urban fringe.
- This network of green infrastructure assets should be safeguarded, retained and enhanced through the development of green networks/wedges and corridors.
- Areas identified as having a shortage or opportunities for the provision of green infrastructure should be a particular focus for enhancement.
- Any development should contribute to the creation of a good quality, integrated and accessible multi-functional network of green spaces.
- Safeguarding green infrastructure assets to make sure that:
- Development does not compromise their integrity or potential value;
- Developer contributions are secured wherever appropriate in order to improve their quality, use and multi-functionality; and
- Opportunities to add to the green infrastructure network are maximised through partnership working.
- Working with partners, to support the potential of strategic green infrastructure assets to contribute to the aims of the wider green infrastructure. The strategic green infrastructure assets footnote 65 identified in Cheshire East are:
- Weaver, Bollin, Dane and Wheelock river corridors including cloughs and floodplains
- Macclesfield, Shropshire Union (including the Llangollen and Middlewich branches) and Trent and Mersey canals
- Meres and Mosses Nature Improvement Area and Local Nature Improvement Areas
- Heritage town parks and open spaces of historic and cultural importance
- Public rights of way, cycle routes and greenways
- Country parks and estate parklands
- Peak Park Fringe
- The Cloud, Congleton Edge and Mow Cop upland fringe (connected by the Gritstone Trail)
- Sandstone Ridge
- The ecological network of habitats identified in Policy SE 3
- Strengthening the contribution that sport and playing fields, open space and recreation facilities make to Cheshire East’s green infrastructure network by requiring all development to:
- Protect and enhance existing open spaces and sport and recreation facilities; footnote 66
- Encourage multiple use and improvements to their quality;
- Provide adequate open space (as outlined in Table 13.1);
- Contribute to the provision of outdoor sports facilities in line with Policy SC 2;
- Create or add to the networks of multi-functional Green Infrastructure;
- Secure new provision to help address identified shortages in existing open space provision, both in quantity, quality and accessibility;
- Locate open space facilities in appropriate locations, preferably within developments; and
- Promote linkages between new development and surrounding recreational networks, communities and facilities.
13.46 The National Planning Policy Framework states that 'local planning authorities should set out a strategic approach in their Local Plans, planning positively for the creation, protection, enhancement and management of networks of biodiversity and green infrastructure'.
13.47 The wide variety of natural landscapes, biodiversity habitats, green spaces, rural areas and the network of footpaths and bridleways is seen as one of the reasons why Cheshire East is such an attractive place to live by local people. There are concerns amongst local people about potential loss of green spaces and other places important for outdoor recreation and natural beauty and biodiversity. The policy links with Policies SE 3 'Biodiversity and Geodiversity', SE 4 'The Landscape', SE 5 'Trees Hedgerows and Woodlands' and SE 7 'The Historic Environment' linking all the various green assets of Cheshire East from parks and gardens to woodland copses, hedges and ponds.
13.48 It is important to co-ordinate green infrastructure provision so that resources are used effectively. The council’s Green Space Strategy sets out the green infrastructure assets and the various partners involved in green space provision. It contains a vision, background evidence, recommendations and an action plan. The council’s Open Space Assessment adds further detail at town and village level.
13.49 Provision of multi-functional green infrastructure should create: places for outdoor relaxation and play; space and habitat for wildlife; opportunities to access nature; climate change adaptation; opportunities for environmental education; space for local food production; improved health and wellbeing; reduced air, water and noise pollution; green transport routes to promote walking and cycling; and improved quality of place. It can also play a major role in attracting economic growth and investment, increasing land and property benefits, promoting tourism, and increasing business productivity.
13.50 Appropriate restoration following mineral working can provide additional green infrastructure assets (See Policy SE 10 'Sustainable Provision of Minerals').
13.51 In the council’s Green Space Strategy, the Open Space vision is to provide 'a network of clean, green, sustainable, attractive, well maintained, safe areas for all ages, for formal and informal recreational activities, more formal outdoor sports or for sitting and relaxing, which are easily accessible and are well designed to avoid conflict and build community cohesion, whilst enhancing our day to day environment'.
13.52 Chapter 9 of the Green Space Strategy outlines Open Space Standards for the various types of open space.
13.53 The combined open space standards would give a total figure of 2.6 hectares of open space per 1,000 population plus developer contributions for outdoor sports provision – either enhancement of existing sites or towards the provision of new facilities. In some cases, commuted sums generally may be more appropriate for improvement of other open spaces and green infrastructure connectivity. The requirement per family dwelling would therefore range from 40m2 per home comprising children’s play and amenity green space – to 65m2 per home comprising children’s play, amenity, allotments and green connectivity plus a developer contribution for outdoor sports - in areas with severe shortages in open space. It is likely that the total amount of 65m2 per home (plus developer contributions for outdoor sports) would be required on major greenfield and brownfield development sites, though the amount required would be influenced by other available evidence at that time. The Open Space Standards Table below shows the open space requirement per home and also shows the equivalent figure in hectares (per 1,000 population) that is used to assess the amount of open space in a particular neighbourhood / community.
13.54 In some cases, commuted sums may be required for biodiversity offsetting/compensatory habitat expansion. Developments should incorporate biodiversity considerations in their design but there is still likely to be some biodiversity loss. One way to compensate for this loss is by offsetting: this includes the provision of compensatory habitat expansion or restoration on an alternative site.
Table 13.1 Open Space Standards
|Children's Play Space
|Amenity Green Space
|Outdoor Sports Facilities
|Green Infrastructure Connectivity
|Quantity (per 1,000 population)
|Quantity (per family home)
13.55 Developer Contributions for Outdoor Sports facilities will be informed by any emerging or subsequently adopted Sports Strategy, or made Neighbourhood Plan based on robust and tested evidence. Policy SC 2 covers the provision of Outdoor Sports Facilities.
13.56 Viability considerations will be taken into account with any development proposal especially when applying open space standards.
13.57 Paragraphs 76 and 77 of the National Planning Policy Framework consider Local Green Space designations: “Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Identifying land as Local Green Space should therefore be consistent with the local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or reviewed, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period”. Paragraph 77 sets out when they might not be appropriate: “The Local Green Space designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space. The designation should only be used:
- where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;
- where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
- where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land."
- Green Infrastructure Framework for North East Wales, Cheshire and Wirral (2011)
- Cheshire East Open Space Assessment (2012)
- Cheshire East Green Space Strategy (2013)
- Playing Pitch Strategy
- Green Infrastructure Action Plan for Crewe (2012)
- Green Infrastructure Partnership (2011
- Forestry Commission - Benefits of Green Infrastructure (2010)
- Natural England - Information on Environmental Designations (2012)
(Footnote 65) Strategic green infrastructure assets are those assets that either provide or could provide wider green infrastructure benefits.
(Footnote 66) To be Identified on the Site Allocations and Development Policies Adopted Policies Map, plus incidental open space and amenity areas too small to be shown. Until this time the existing open spaces and sport and recreation facilities identified in the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich Local Plan, Congleton Borough Local Plan First Review and the Macclesfield Borough Local Plan will remain in force.
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