Green Infrastructure and Spaces
To contribute to the health and well-being of our Parish, by ensuring community access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation - including consideration of Local Green Space designation; and by seeking to ensure that any proposed development within, (or impacting on), the Parish or its green infrastructure is consistent with national Green Belt policy
The NPPF defines “Green infrastructure” as “a network of multi-functional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities”.
Our natural and historic environments, their role in our green infrastructure, and the value they have to our community are a key factor in our efforts to ensure sustainable development within our parish and neighbouring areas. In a rural environment such as ours, there is a clear understanding of the need for careful management and best use of our local resources, to sustain the benefits we gain from them for ourselves and others; and to conserve the natural and historic environments of our parish – together with its character.
In a broader context, we recognise the importance of green infrastructure in reducing carbon footprints, for example through access for individuals and businesses to locally grown produce from our allotments and farms; and in actively encouraging sustainable forms of transport between urban and rural areas, such as walking, cycling and horse-riding. These issues, plus associated influences such as flood and traffic management are key considerations in the future development of Wymondley Parish, and are covered in various sections of this Plan.
Issues relating to application of the Government’s Green Belt policy in and near our Parish warrant special consideration, and are therefore covered separately in Section 7.
As a rural parish Wymondley is blessed with a considerable range of green spaces, all of which are greatly valued and regularly used; and which offer parishioners and visitors the opportunity to carry out a variety of different recreational activities. (Further details of recreational activities and their impact on community cohesion and well-being are contained in Section 15.) Details of our green spaces (and related issues) are set out below:
Policy GIS1: We will conserve and, (where possible), enhance our green spaces for their positive impact on the health, quality of life and social cohesion of our current community and future generations
Wymondley Parish Green Spaces
As mentioned above, Wymondley Parish has a fairly wide variety of green spaces, some of which are protected from development by their current designation as common land, village green or playing field. Others, although equally beneficial to the health and social well-being of our community, have no such designation. The situation is as follows:
Wymondley Woods: was planted in two stages between 1997 and 2000, amidst mature woodlands. Consisting primarily of locally-grown oak and hornbeam, it was created as an educational resource for managed groups. It features a special nature conservation and field study area, adjacent to existing and newly planted forest environments which provide food and cover for a wide variety of wildlife all year round – in marked contrast to the surrounding arable fields. It forms part of the Garden City Greenway, which was funded (and is owned and managed) by the Heritage Foundation, to act as a permanent commemoration of Letchworth Garden City’s first centenary in 2003.
Wymondley Woods and Scout Hut
Church Green, Great Wymondley: was granted to the Wymondley Parish Council (WPC) on 7 August 1968 by a Deed of Gift from the late Captain Wilshere, and is registered Common Land
Church Green, Great Wymondley
Siccut Road Green, Little Wymondley: is divided by Siccut Road, but counts as one plot of land, not two. It was transferred from NHDC to WPC in November 2007, and has Village Green status.
Siccut Road Green, Little Wymondley
Recreation Ground, Graveley Road, Great Wymondley: conveyed from Miss Wilshere to the Parish Council on 1st February 1929, ‘for the purpose of playing fields’. This land does not have Village Green status..
Recreation Ground, Gravely Road, Great Wymondley
Tower Close Green, Little Wymondley: which is on the left as you enter Tower Close from Stevenage Road, was transferred from North Herts District Council (NHDC) to WPC in November 2007, and has Village Green status.
Tower Close Green, Little Wymondley
Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields, off Tower Close, Little Wymondley: has, since 29 September 1947, been leased by its custodial trustee Fields in Trust (formerly the National Playing Fields Association) to its managing trustee Wymondley Parish Council. The lease runs for 99 years, with an annual peppercorn rent of 2/6d, which is not demanded. In July 2012, the playing fields acquired Queen Elizabeth II Field status, as part of the Fields in Trust Challenge, which established a grass-roots legacy of protected land in connection with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic and Paralympic Games. Consequently, it is protected in perpetuity for use as a public playing field and recreation ground.
Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields, Little Wymondley
Green space (former allotments), Siccut Road, Little Wymondley: this land was transferred from NHDC to North Herts Homes (NHH) in 2003, and was used ‘under licence’ by WPC as allotments. This licence was cancelled in May 2012, as the plots were no longer being used.
Allotments, Siccut Road, Little Wymondley
Garden Plots (Allotments), Great Wymondley: this land was transferred from NHDC to NHH in 2003, and was used ‘under licence’ by WPC. However, since February 2011 the licence agreement has been a direct arrangement between WPC and the plot holders there.
Garden Plots (Allotments), Great Wymondley
Allotments, Stevenage Road, Little Wymondley: the history of these allotments is a little unclear, but they have been in existence for at least a century. They are on land which currently forms part of Wymondley Hall Farm, and leased by allotment holders who pay an annual rent directly to the landowner.
Allotments, Stevenage Road, Little Wymondley
Tower Close, Central Green, Little Wymondley: is a large, green space in the centre of the Close, populated by a number of large, native trees and planted with spring flowers. It is used on a daily basis as a recreational facility by village children and dog walkers, and if lost it would totally change the character of that part of the village. (A smaller area of grass at the end of the Close has already been designated as a village green.)
Tower Close Central Green, Little Wymondley
Designating Local Green Spaces (LGS)
As part of the neighbourhood planning process, the NPPF enables local communities to identify, (for special protection), green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space (LGS) local communities can rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Designation can only take place when a plan is being prepared or reviewed; and needs to be consistent with sustainable development and complement investment in homes, jobs and other essential services. It also needs to be capable of enduring beyond the end of the Plan period.
The NPPF makes it clear that designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open spaces, and sets out criteria for its use, namely:
Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with Green Belt policy.
Policy GIS2: we will apply to NHDC for Local Green Space designation in relation to green spaces within Wymondley Parish which are special to the local community; meet the relevant criteria, and which are not otherwise protected.
Our survey of Wymondley parishioners specifically asked about the type of improvements or measures they would like to see in the Parish. 57% of respondents indicated that they would like to see improvements/enhancements to the look and feel of the villages in the Parish. Aside from the primary concern that our Green Belt land should be protected from development, other key “green” issues in this connection were the need for better maintenance of trees, hedges, grass verges and pavements; and preservation of our green spaces.
Additionally, 58% of respondents indicated that they wished to have additional or improved recreation areas for the children of the Parish. (Further background on this and our related proposals are contained in Sections 15 and 16 of this Plan.)
It is clear from the responses to our survey of Wymondley parishioners, that our green spaces are seen as vital to the health and well-being of the Parish, as well as to its social cohesion. We believe that steps should be taken to protect those green spaces which are not already safeguarded for use by our community and future generations. We therefore propose to apply for LGS designation in relation to the following green spaces – all of which are within the community they serve; meet one or more of the criteria required to demonstrate they are special to the local community; and are non-extensive, self-contained tracts of land which are local in character: