North Dorset consults on transfer of public spaces to local control

District council looks to cut maintenance costs with disposal of its open-space responsibilities.

Areas from village greens up to large meadows are among the first plots to be switched - image: HW
Areas from village greens up to large meadows are among the first plots to be switched - image: HW

North Dorset District Council is to dispose of up to 24 areas of public open space land to local town and parish councils in an effort to cut maintenance costs.

The areas of land vary from small quarter-hectare greens to meadows of up to 3.6ha.

The move will see local communities take responsibility for maintaining the spaces and the related costs while the transfer contracts will ensure the land remains only for public use.

The local authority explained that it hopes to start transferring the parcels of land within the next 12 months, with a long-term aim of disposing of all public open spaces that required maintenance funding.

Letters have been sent to the four town and five parish councils that could take over responsibility for the land asking for their feedback on the proposals.

Principal technical officer Mike Coker said so far the response had been "very positive". He added: "These areas are only used by local people and this will enable them to control their own spaces and to engage with voluntary activities. It will give them pride of ownership and the opportunity for community decisionmaking rather than it being managed by a faceless person they never meet."

Coker said the councils would fund the maintenance for the land through existing council tax although they would potentially have to increase charges in future.

"In north Dorset the town councils have more direct employees and equipment than the districts so they are better placed to look after the land anyway," he added.

Legal protection stressed

"We shouldn't get too hung up about who actually owns the land provided it is guaranteed in perpetuity as good quality public open space.

"There must be the correct legal protection in place against selling the land off or using it for another purpose. I expect this to become a popular move but whether small communities will feel able to take on these services is another matter."

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary, Open Spaces Society


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Generations of ordinary British people have been let down by weak, visionless leaders -- politicians more engaged by the next election than our national best interest.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Custodian Awards

Products & Kit Resources