«Lists of figures, plans, tables and appendices ii Glossary vii Executive Summary viii 1 Introduction 1 2 Undertaking the Study 9 3 Strategic Context ...»
8.42 Table 8.4 demonstrates that there is insufficient provision of allotment space in Leeds to meet current and future demand following application of the proposed quantity standard. Also, the two areas in surplus at present (East Outer and South Outer) fail to meet the standard for any of the population growth scenarios.
8.43 Allotments are used by a small proportion of the population. However, interest in managing a plot is increasing as evidenced by the growing waiting list.
8.44 Existing demand can be measured using plot take up and the size of waiting lists. Assumptions have been made regarding the latent demand and it is clear the number of available allotment plots will have to increase to meet the growing demand. This study has also assumed the provision and take up of whole allotment plots (measuring 250 metres squared) but half plots and quarter plots have increasingly become a common management approach to increase provision on existing sites and this also meets the needs of some newer tenants who require smaller plot sizes than traditional full plots. It should also be noted that some allotment sites are currently used for grazing animals and if managed as growing plots could help to meet the increasing demand.
8.45 The key issues for allotments can be summarised as:
• used by a small proportion of the population, however, the waiting list has increased by 25% between 2010 and 2011;
• increased provision of new sites and plots will be required to meet the standard and satisfy waiting list demand;
• increase future provision using alterative plot sizes such as half plots and quarter plots;
• parish and town council’s need to be more active in the locations where they are the statutory allotment authority;
• some allotment sites are currently used for extensive animal grazing and could be more intensively and efficiently used for growing food.
Chapter 9 Natural Green Space Introduction and definition
9.1 There are a number of definitions for natural green space. For the purpose of this study, natural green space is defined as woodland, nature reserves and unmanaged green spaces, such as scrubland.
9.2 Natural green space provides a habitat for flora and fauna to flourish, thereby contributing to wildlife conservation, biodiversity, and environmental education and awareness. Natural England promotes ‘Nature Nearby’, which is the provision of good quality natural green spaces close to where people live, so that they can experience and enjoy different ecosystems. However, careful attention to the maintenance and improvement of natural green space is crucial to ensure that both user groups exist in harmony.
9.3 This chapter focuses on natural green spaces within and adjacent to the urban area which are accessible to the public. Consequently, natural green space further than a 15 minute walk from the urban area and within the Green Belt is not included in the formulation of the natural green space standard. It examines sites where the primary typology is natural green space and will consider the existing quantity, quality and accessibility of these sites. The results of the needs assessment and the audit of the natural sites will inform the preparation and justification for the proposed standards. The proposed standards will be used to identify areas of deficiency and surplus.
9.4 In addition to sites where the primary function of green space is natural.
Natural green space is also a key characteristic of green corridors, but for the purpose of this study those sites are considered in chapter 11. Natural green space is often present in other areas of green space. For example, Roundhay Park is a formal city park with large areas of natural green space. These are secondary to the primary function of the green space as a city park. As a secondary function, there is a greater amount of natural green space within Leeds than identified within this chapter, however, this additional natural green space is generally located in the larger city parks.
9.5 This chapter also includes sites which are protected by national legislation as a result of their contribution to wildlife conservation, biodiversity and environmental education. Whilst this study does not discuss additional levels of protection in detail, it is important to acknowledge that within Leeds there are a number of sites that are recognised for their contribution to nature conservation.
9.6 In addition to the natural sites discussed in this chapter, Leeds also has over 136 square miles of rural land, this is approximately two thirds of the Leeds area. Whilst not all of this land is publicly accessible, there are many Public Rights of Way (PRoW), which make it possible for the public to enjoy the landscape and flora and fauna it supports.
9.7 The Leeds Unitary Development Plan Review (UDPR 2006) seeks to protect and conserve areas of land which have nature conservation importance. The following categories of protection set out below form a hierarchy of importance in terms of nature conservation. A schedule of sites can be found within the UDPR (2006).
Special Landscape Areas (SLAs)
9.8 Leeds has 18 SLAs which are identified within the UDPR 2006. These are the most attractive areas of countryside in Leeds which possess a number of positive attributes and, therefore, need to be protected from visually harmful development. Examples of positive factors include natural or semi-natural woods, which is of relevance to this chapter. Many of the SLAs cover private land, but some do have PRoWs running through them, which provide some limited public access.
Urban Green Corridors
9.9 Urban green corridors (as described in the UDPR 2006 and not to be confused with those site discussed in chapter 11 of this study) are natural green spaces performing the function of a wildlife corridor, linking areas of wildlife habitat. They help the spread of species to limit their vulnerability to local extinction.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
9.10 Leeds has 17 SSSIs. These are sites of national importance for nature conservation and protect the most precious habitats in Leeds.
Sites of Ecological or Geological Interest (SEGIs)
9.11 Leeds has 44 SEGI sites. These are sites considered to be of county and regional importance for ecological and geological conservation.
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs)
9.12 Leeds has 6 LNR sites. These are sites considered to be of local importance for nature conservation.
Leeds Nature Areas (LNAs)
9.13 Leeds has 116 LNA sites. These are sites of local importance for the enjoyment, study or conservation of wildlife, geological features and landforms.
Consultation - Assessing local needs
9.14 The consultation process sought to provide information and improve understanding of local communities perceptions of the quality, quantity and accessibility to green space. Two resident surveys were completed. A survey of Leeds’ households and an on-street survey in the inner city areas. Further assessment of local need was conducted involving children from schools and the Leeds Youth Council. Local sports clubs and recreation user groups, Leeds City Council employees, ward councillors, parish councils and key stakeholders were also asked for their views.
9.15 The results of the consultation highlighted the following:
Current Provision Quantity
9.16 For the purposes of analysis within this chapter, the urban area is defined as land which is not designated Green Belt. In addition, a 15 minute walk time catchment buffer (720 metres) has been created around this urban area to ensure that sites which are accessible from the urban area are also considered. The use of a 15 minute walk time catchment (720 metres) is explained in the accessibility section of this chapter. Using this definition of ‘urban area’ there are 294 sites of natural green space of 0.2 hectares and above, covering a total area of 1,771 hectares. See Plan 9.1.
9.17 Leeds currently has no quantity standard for natural green space. Existing provision for the urban area defined above at paragraph 9.16 calculates at
2.58 hectares per 1,000 population (based on Council Tax population data January 2008). This refers to green space where the primary typology is natural. This calculation does not include natural green space that is secondary to other types of green space.
9.18 Council Tax data rather than ONS population estimates were used to inform the quantity assessment for natural green space, as it is possible to identify households within the defined urban area. ONS population estimates are not available on this basis. However, ONS projected household size has been used with the information from Council Tax to accurately estimate the urban area population.
9.19 In determining the parameters for natural green space site assessment, Natural England recommends a minimum size threshold of 0.2 hectares for all types of green space as this is a size that can, for practicality reasons, be planned and identified on plans. In addition to this, Parks and Countryside will not adopt new sites for management purposes, less than 0.2 hectares.
9.20 However, sites less than 0.2 hectares support a smaller variety of flora and fauna as a result of their size. Whilst such sites are not considered as part of this study, they should not be disregarded because of their lower levels of biodiversity. Natural England advises that such sites are enjoyed by children and, therefore, should not be ignored, but accepted for their high value to local communities.
9.21 Plan 9.1 shows the distribution of natural green space of 0.2 hectares and above across Leeds.
9.22 Plan 9.1 shows that the larger areas of natural green space, with the exception of Otley Chevin, tend to be located adjacent to the River Aire and Leeds Liverpool Canal. The inner analysis areas, where population is more concentrated due to high housing densities have very little natural green space, which is a consequence of the historic growth of Leeds spreading out from the city centre.
9.23 It is difficult to draw many conclusions from the plan as it does not provide a clear picture of the amount of green space in relation to population. The table below sets out the amount of natural green space for each analysis area and the provision in hectares per 1,000 population within the urban area.
Table 9.1 Natural Green Space Provision in Leeds by Analysis Area
9.25 Table 9.2 below sets out how much natural green space there would be per 1,000 population in the urban area if the level of natural green space were to remain constant whilst the population of Leeds continues to increase. It considers three population growth scenarios which are explained below the table.
Table 9.2 Provision of Natural Green Space per 1000 Population based on Three Population Growth Scenarios
9.26 The above table demonstrates that the amount per 1,000 population would decrease, placing increasing pressure on existing natural green space to support the increased population.
9.27 Setting a standard is vital to prevent a situation where population grows but the provision of natural green space remains the same. This would increase the pressure on existing green space.
Setting a Quantity Standard
9.28 The recommended local quantity standard for natural green space has been derived from the local needs consultation and audit of provision and is summarised below.
9.29 There was a split in opinion between the respondents with regards to whether or not there was sufficient natural green space, which was largely reflective of whether the respondent was from an inner or an outer analysis area.
9.30 In line with the key themes emerging from the consultation, the standard for natural green space is set below the existing provision (2.58 hectares) at 2 hectares per 1,000 population. This will ensure that areas where there is considered to be enough natural green space retain at least 2 hectares per 1,000 population and the inner areas where there is considered to be insufficient natural green space, see an achievable growth in natural green space provision. In addition, a standard of 2 hectares per 1,000 population is consistent with Natural England’s recommendation on accessible natural green space standard.
Current Provision - Quality
9.31 As set out in chapter 2, the Green Flag awards are a nationally recognised standard in assessing green space and cover the issues of site maintenance.
The quality of existing natural green space in the city was assessed through site visits against a reduced and localised variation of the national Green Flag standard. Each site was assessed against various relevant criteria. A copy of the site assessment form is available at Appendix C. The assessment can be presented as either a score out of 10 or a percentage. The results are summarised in Table 9.3 below. It is important to note that the site assessments reflect the quality of the site on the day they were visited.
Table 9.3 Quality of Natural Green Space by Analysis Area
9.32 Table 9.3 demonstrates an average audit score of 4.49 using the Green Flag criteria as a basis for assessing quality. It also reflects large differences in scores between natural green space sites within analysis areas and between them, with South Inner and East Inner fairing the worst in terms of their area average.
9.33 Whilst the overall average for the quality of natural green space was 4.49, the respondent perception of natural green space quality was much better. Only 6% of the on street survey respondents and 8% of the household survey respondents rated natural areas as poor/very poor. The Leeds City Council employees surveyed found that only 13% rated natural green spaces as poor/very poor.