Consultant speaks out against parkland sales

Parks services managers are examining whether they can sell off underused green spaces — but one parks consultant is concerned that such moves could change the nature of parkland forever.

Parks consultant Sid Sullivan said of Torbay Council in Devon and Bristol City Council’s (HW, 9 August) plans to raise cash from the sale of so-called underused green spaces: “Parks should have no development value under current planning law. But if a development value for one or a small number of parks is established this protection could be lost for all. Does it mean that the rest of them will have to pay business rates for their parks holdings? It’s scary.” Profits from Torbay’s £1.5m sale will be used to improve a nearby playground. Torbay has also earmarked a possible 60 other underused green spaces for development as part of its parks and green spaces strategy, published in December. Leisure community development manager Richard Taylor said: “We are one of the poor councils so we need to sell this land. If we can sell it we will be able to invest in other green spaces that are in need of refurbishment.” Bristol City Council hopes to sell 14.4ha of its parks to housing developers as part of a plan to raise £100m to fund its 20-year green space strategy. Both councils drew up their plans with the help of CABE Space’s enabling service. But GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill said: “A lot of green-space managers have areas that are overprovided for, with other areas underprovided. The idea of rebalancing locations is welcome — as is looking at a mechanism of how to find the revenue to do it.”

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