More should be done to enhance the small open spaces which exist across Central Lancashire, a report has recommended.
Preston, Chorley and South Ribble councils have been advised to make better use of any parcels of land located in areas which are lacking formal parks provision.
The suggestion was amongst a series made in an independent study which has proposed a 10-year action plan for open spaces in the region.
The report – commissioned by the three authorities – found that their parks are generally of a good standard, with 14 Green Flag awards having been achieved across the patch.
However, in some neighbourhoods, it concluded that there is a shortfall in the availability of quality open spaces within an accessible distance of residential areas.
“When councils have identified where the gaps might be, they should look for [other] green spaces that could be formalised by adding benches, bins and play areas to make them more attractive,” said Claire Fallon, principal consultant with report authors Knight Kavanagh and Page.
A survey found that the overall quality of open spaces and their proximity to where people live are the factors which residents value most. Just over half of respondents thought maintenance of the sites and improvements were important considerations.
But one committee member said there was an obvious and longstanding blight on open spaces large and small across Central Lancashire.
“We’ve got all these parks, but a lot of the time they’re covered in dog fouling,” South Ribble councillor Barrie Yates said.
“The onus should be on all councils to provide sufficient park rangers, because the problem is getting worse.”
The residents’ survey found that dog dirt was a key concern for locals and the report recommended trying to educate people to clean up after their dogs. But the meeting heard that providing rangers to cover all sites was “not feasible”.
Coun Yates said that decades of previous attempts to ensure owners take responsibility for dog mess shows that public information campaigns on the subject “never work”.
As part of the report, the three local authorities have been handed specific suggestions about work which should be undertaken on individual sites in their areas, with a recommendation that “low quality” sites should be prioritised.
The councils were also advised to continue pursuing planning agreements which require contributions from housing developers to enhance open space provision.
The report assessed parks and open spaces across Central Lancashire and found that:
***Preston boasts “noticeably high quality parks”, such as Avenham, Ashton and Haslam, but that there is a shortfall in access to local open spaces in the north west and south of the city. There is generally good quality play provision, but a gap in provision to the south. The city has been given six Green Flag awards.
***South Ribble has parks of good “quantity and quality”. Its small open spaces and access to play areas are rated as “excellent”. There are three Green Flag sites in the district.
***Chorley’s parks are also described as being of good “quantity and quality” and any gaps in local accessibility are bridged by Cuerden Valley Park and Yarrow Valley Country Park. Play provision is generally good, but there are some shortfalls in the east. The borough has been awarded five Green Flags.
800 – open spaces in Central Lancashire
2,281 – hectares of open space across Preston, Chorley and South Ribble