The Challenges of Securing the Sustainable Stewardship of Public Green Space
We are pleased that Milton Keynes Council recently took the decision to have all areas of parkland and public green space in new development areas in Milton Keynes transferred into the long term care of either The Parks Trust, or town/parish councils if more appropriate, with an endowment paid for by the developer, to cover the cost of maintaining the land in future.
The Council’s reason for taking this decision now was because of concerns over the increasing trend for developers to set up and use private companies to own and manage public green space. Those companies then levy service charges on residents on top of other charges residents have to pay in relation to their properties. Both we and the Council feel there are many disadvantages to that arrangement and that public green space should be put into the care of bodies like The Parks Trust or town/parish councils, whichever is best suited for the site in question.
Despite taking this decision, the Council’s ability to require developers to transfer public green spaces to the Parks Trust or town/parish councils rather than to private management companies is limited, unless highly complex and expensive compulsory purchase powers are used. This is a national issue that is the subject of this latest article: ‘Stewardship of Public Green Space – Using Land Values for Endowments’ written by David Lock CBE and published in Town & Country Planning, the journal of the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA).
David Lock and the TCPA are advocates of The Parks Trust as an exemplar model of how to secure the sustainable stewardship and maintenance of public green space. We have been working with David over the past year or so to raise awareness of this issue and to seek change in the planning and development system to ensure that parks and green spaces built to serve new urban developments, both here in Milton Keynes and across the country, are placed into the care of appropriate stewardship bodies, with the cost of future maintenance being covered by endowments paid by developers and derived from the increase in land value that occurs when planning permission for development is granted.