Tuesday 3rd April 2018

Plymouth’s Health and Wellbeing Board is to examine the importance of parks and open spaces.

An influential health body is to examine the importance of parks and open spaces to the well being of people who live in Plymouth.

The initiative comes after it was revealed that 169 of the city’s green spaces may not be protected in new planning guidelines.

A planning inspector recently told city council planners to show they had followed the correct procedure when proposing the parks and open spaces were preserved as Local Green Space – the same level of protection as green belt.

The potential threat has prompted Plymouth’s Health and Wellbeing Board – which brings together city councillors, NHS officials and health professionals – to look at the value of these green spaces to people living in the city.

Jacky Clift, who asked for the issue to be added to the board’s work plan, said there was now evidence from around the globe that green spaces were vital for well being, life expectancy and mental health.

Jackie Young, co-ordinator of Environment Plymouth, a recently established network of the city’s green groups, said green spaces were important for wildlife of all kinds, and for residents.

She added: “These are special areas where the kids play, or you have a picnic on the grass, or where you contemplate life for a moment.”

Her comments were echoed by James Brown, who chairs the Plymouth Open Spaces Network, who said: “Where we have got a good green infrastructure around where people live and work the quality of life tends to be better.

“It would appear that if you can bring these things together you are getting long-term cost savings from the quality of life that occurs.”

Plymouth City Council believes nobody should live more than 400 meters from a park or open space, a policy it wants enshrined in the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan, the document that will guide planning policy until 2034.

The inspector who questioned whether the council had followed the correct procedure is heading the public inquiry into the planning blueprint.

A council spokesman said city planners were confident they had enough evidence to justify designating the parks in question as Local Green Space, and that they had followed the correct procedure.

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