Sunday 6 January 2013

Do We Need a Country Park?

One of the things that I have found strange about the whole supermarkets business are the officer reports suggesting that there is no recognised need for a country park in Whittlesey. In my view that message is contrary to the current planning policy - a point I made and which was accepted by the planning committee on 29th August.

But, having listened to the voice of members, the most recent draft report for the supermarket applications (and it was a draft - so subject to change) has made the same observation - that there is no recognised need for open space in Whittlesey.

A few years ago Fenland carried out an audit of open space in the District as part of its first attempt at updating planning policy.  I managed to get a copy of that report a few weeks ago and made reading it of my Christmas tasks.  The contents of that report, in my view, have to be give some weight in the planning considerations, not least because it is far more up to date than the District Wide Local Plan we are currently working to (and that also recognises a need for more open space).

Having read that report, I remain baffled about the lack of weight given to the opportunity for a country park.  Here is the most telling line from that audit:
"Whittlesey has a shortfall of 1.82ha of Public Open Space representing a 6% deficit of
what should ideally be provided according to policy recommendations.
The report also makes the case that Whittlesey is the only one of the four Fenland Market Towns that has a deficit in terms of children's play areas (although all of the other market Towns have a green space deficit).

The audit also makes an attempt to look forwards and predicts, based on a future population growth of just 790, that the deficit will rise to 3.71 Hectares (the current core strategy suggests 1100 houses which means that the open space deficit will increase to a much higher figure).

I am going to suggest that Fenland District Council revisit this audit as part of their work on the Core Strategy (the updated planning policy for the District) because it makes some very hard-hitting points about the need for more green space across the whole of Fenland (for example March has a deficit for outdoor sport of some 19.61 Hectares, rising to 26.60 Hectares in 2021). It is clear to me that we need to be given more thought to the fact that open space is yet another important infrastructure issue for the area.

But, in terms of Whittlesey, this report provides even more evidence to support the fact that there is a need for a Country Park.


  1. I love Lattersey Nature Reserve but it's not big enough for a long walk and this is why we need a larger area such as a country park.
    Also the dog mess might be a bit more controlled in a country park as it is all over the place down Lattersey and not well seen now it is quite muddy.

  2. I'm not sure its even possible to have "too much" country park. Unless you live in Canada. And maybe not even then.

  3. I agree - but in planning terms, why say there is no need for it, when there clearly is?

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  5. As you correctly state there is a definite shortfall in Whittlesey in terms of space and I have experienced this as a parent of 2 young children.

    In addition, the equipment in the play areas at Manor Park and Tower Field is in need of upgrade and has been for several years as is made clear in this 2003 report

    Is it possible that the some of the funds allocated can be used to refurbish these existing play areas?