JUST how big Gloucester’s open spaces are has been ‘vastly exaggerated’ in a plan that has been halted after big concerns about its accuracy.
The city’s environment guru, councillor Saj Patel, has put the brakes on the open space strategy for the next five years after serious concerns.
A rowdy scrutiny committee meeting saw councillors reveal that land currently identified as open space is not actually open space.
It comes against the backdrop of new figures which show the Barton, Tredworth, Quedgeley Severn Vale, Tuffley, Hucclecote and Kingsholm and Wotton areas all have a ‘significant shortfall’ in open space per person.
Barton and Tredworth has 0.24 hectares compared to the minimum 2.8ha per 1,000 people, making it the worst area for getting out into the open. Tredworth campaigner Kay Powell said: “This time Saj and the council have well and truly let down the city. They are portraying the image that there is more open space in the city than there actually is. The figures have been vastly exaggerated.”
Ms Powell has campaigned against plans for a new riding arena on part of land that is currently St James’ Park, in Tredworth. She argues the plan, which was approved last month, will further diminish the little open space currently available for residents.
At a meeting last week, Mr Patel, cabinet member for the environment, deferred the open space strategy which had been drawn up to cover the next five years. He said: “Members have raised important questions and it is important that we reflect on these. It is important that we defer this to the next cabinet meeting.”
Fellow councillor Jennie Dallimore, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhood, said: “Green space is so important to people in this city. We know people feel really passionate about it.”
The five-year plan includes proposals to create or refurbish at least two play areas every year for five years.
The council will also aim to achieve three Green Flag statuses for its parks and open spaces and will invest at least £200,000 through housing developer contributions and other grants. Some 5,000 new trees would be planted too.
At present 12 per cent of the city is publicly accessible green space and there are more than 150 individual areas of public open space covering 300ha.