Fields in Trust

PARKS AND PLANNING: Effective campaigning through the planning consultation process

Posted on 4th August 2019
A look ahead to our upcoming support resource, Watch This Space, and a focus on the case of how effective campaigning helped secure River Lane Sports Pitches in King's Lynn.

Fields in Trust will shortly be publishing a new guide called "Watch this Space" to help communities navigate through the planning process, which can be complex to those less familiar with it. With pointers on how to organise a campaign when your local park or green space is at threat from a development we hope this will be a useful tool for many communities.

We find one such example of how a community has recently successfully campaigned through the planning process in King's Lynn and the River Lane Sports Pitches, which form part of a large area of open space within the North Lynn area of the town. The entire space was originally proposed for a major housing development by the Borough Council within their allocations for the Local Plan and the pitches at River Lane were themselves earmarked for the provision of 153 houses.

A campaign began during the council's consultation process on the plans, with a large number of residents engaging with the consultation at all phases and vehemently objecting to the inclusion of the River Lane Sports Pitches. As a result, the council agreed to remove the space from the proposal.

Due to the tenacity of the local residents' association, the council then legally protected the land with Fields in Trust in perpetuity as part of our Active Spaces programme. This has ensured that this green space will always be there for both formal sport and informal recreation.

"I am pleased that we have been able to work with Fields in Trust to secure this protection for this part of Lynnsport. When we put our development plans together it soon became clear that local people wanted this area protected for recreational use, and I gave an assurance that we would make that happen. A legally binding Deed of Dedication is now registered with the property deeds which means nothing can happen on or with the site without the prior authorisation of Fields in Trust."
Cllr Alistair Beales, Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk Cabinet Member for Corporate Projects and Assets

River Lane Sports Pitches

With a local population of particularly poor health and being situated within the top 25% of most deprived wards in England the importance of getting more people active and healthy in this area is paramount. Thanks to funding from the London Marathon Charitable Trust, new activities have been delivered to engage residents to use the playing fields including beginners running classes and buggy bootcamp. That would not have been possible if the community hadn't fought to save the space through the planning process.

Our "Watch This Space" top tips include:

  • Try and influence local policy-making as a way to help prevent future threats to green spaces.
  • Get familiar with the planning policies that apply to your area, especially the policies concerning the protection of recreation space and play facilities.
  • Check the local authority website to see whether any Neighbourhood Plans are in process and approach your town or parish council about instigating one if not.

The full "Watch this Space" guide to the planning system will be published in September 2019.

Picture top, with thanks to Lynn News.

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