Open Spaces Strategy
>Chapter 6 The Benefits of Open Space
6.1. Parks and open spaces are important to the community they serve and benefit local people in many ways; their health and wellbeing, the local economy, community safety and whether they impact in a positive way to a general sense of satisfaction with where people live.
6.2. There is considerable evidence that parks and open spaces, when designed and managed correctly, have the ability to impact positively on all of our lives, in ways that may not be immediately apparent.
6.3. Local government must set the right example and ensure, where possible that these valuable assets are available and accessible to all sections of the community so that all might benefit from its use.
6.4. Open space provides wider benefits; wildlife habitat, protection of rare and important species, influence over climate change, maintaining fragile ecosystems and mitigating against flood risk.
6.5. Health Benefits
6.5.1. Open Spaces provide opportunities for outdoor activity including free and inclusive sports facilities which in turn help increase levels of health and reduce obesity. Open spaces also help to maintain good mental health. They reduce stress by encouraging relaxation through interaction with the natural environment, physical activity and social interaction.
6.6.1. Parks and open spaces offer a space for play, whether formal or informal. They provide a great setting for developing social, physical and cognitive skills. They also offer a location for older children to socialise and relax.
6.6.2. Open space also provides us with learning opportunities for range of subjects, and does so throughout our lives.
6.7. Community Safety
6.7.1. Well designed spaces can reduce the fear of crime, increasing usage and enabling everyone to enjoy them. Through increased natural surveillance this can have wider benefits that create safer neighbourhoods.
6.8. Our Communities 'Green Heart'
6.8.1. Parks and open spaces are freely available to all, providing opportunities for social interaction, community activity and cultural events. Open spaces can improve local identity and develop a sense of place. Where communities get involved in the management and maintenance of open space the relationships can be more beneficial and give ownership of the environment.
6.9. Sustainable Transport and Climate Change
6.9.1. Open spaces provide the opportunity for walking and cycling, lessening reliance on cars and reducing traffic. They provide the 'green lungs' of our towns and cities, absorb pollutants and process carbon dioxide. Some typologies of open space actively encourage sustainable practices such as composting and locally-grown produce. They can also provide natural drainage systems to reduce flooding.
6.10. Our connection with nature
6.10.1. Parks and open spaces provide valuable natural habitats for all forms of wildlife, offer green links, protect biodiversity and give the chance for people to experience and appreciate nature.
6.10.2. This Open Spaces Strategy will develop a strategic context for the planning, protection and development of open spaces and green infrastructure in Harborough District. The delivery of this strategy will enable the Council to coordinate resources to increase the quality and use of green space, to help plan for the future and to ensure that the District's open spaces meet the needs of the local community.
6.10.3. The Open Spaces Strategy 2016 to 2021 is a policy document to be used in association with Harborough District Council Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study 2015. This updated study has determined standards for the provision and quality of new green spaces.