Where new green spaces are created, consideration must be given to future users of the site and the long term management and maintenance requirements.
Local authorities are increasingly reluctant to adopt green spaces. They are particularly likely to resist spaces left over after planning (SLOPS), which are of little value to the community and are often small, single-purpose, and difficult to access and maintain.
Therefore the effective management of a site is vitally important to the long term success of the site in achieving landscape or biodiversity objectives. Management measures should not be overly complex, otherwise they are unlikely to be put into practice.
Management tasks should be performance rather than prescription-led, so there is opportunity to amend the task if the results are not as projected. Where landscape features and habitats are to be retained or proposed, development proposals should consider the potential for:
- Relaxing mowing regimes.
- Relaxing or ceasing herbicide application in the immediate vicinity.
- Watering during dry weather.
- Grazing by small, native species.
- Reseeding grass.
- Replacing dead plants.
- Comprehensive weed control.
- Grass cutting, scrub and seedling removal.
- Checking the condition of tree stakes, ties, guards, and protective fencing and repairing and replacing when necessary.
- Linking to other habitats such as rough grassland for foraging Barn Owls.
Long term management
Arrangements for long term management and maintenance of greenspace (including timing and works programme) should be made clear as early as possible. A realistic and simple approach is usually more successful, particularly where instructions are to be passed between several people.
Site-specific techniques required to establish and maintain habitats must be set out in a Management Plan. A management plan sets out, graphically and/or in writing, the overall steps that will be taken during construction and after completion to ensure that the scheme is successfully established and maintained. It should detail proposed maintenance regimes for a minimum of five years. Management plans need to cover all uses, including recreational uses and techniques and methods to resolve conflicts between conflicting uses, should any unanticipated ones arise.
A management plan may be secured as a ‘condition’ attached to a planning permission or under a Section 106 legal agreement, although it should have been agreed in advance of permission being granted. The person responsible for the delivery of the management measures should be of a specified role to ensure this continues despite changing personnel, for example, an occupant (e.g. in public-owned buildings) or an appointed third party (e.g. in corporate or multi-resident buildings). Once the development is complete, the Management Plan should be implemented.
Further specific advice on management and legacy can be accessed using the links below:
What to include in a management plan
The Management Plan should include:
- a description and evaluation of features to be managed;
- ecological trends and constraints on site that could influence management;
- aims and objectives of management;
- appropriate management options for achieving aims and objectives;
- prescriptions for management actions;
- preparation of a work schedule (including an annual work plan capable of being rolled out over a five year period);
- body or organisation responsible for implementation of the plan;
- monitoring and remedial measures; and
- funding resources and mechanisms to ensure sustainable long-term delivery of the proposed management.
On-going management should incorporate monitoring opportunities. This ensures (i) end uses are as anticipated, (ii) management tasks are addressing adverse effects and are being implemented in a timely manner, and (iii) that these are having the desired effect. If the results remain wanting, the management prescription can be modified accordingly.
The checklist below is suggested to aid management and maintenance:
- Are the instructions simple, perhaps annotated on a plan?
- Are the instructions robust i.e. with little room for misinterpretation
- Are measures specified to particular seasons/months and years e.g. ‘mow plot A to Xcm height in even years, plot B in odd years’?
- Is there scope for performance rather than prescription-lead management?
- Is there a single role, with named person, responsible for overseeing implementation?
- Is there scope for monitoring, to check the management planned is (i) carried out and (ii) achieving the desired effect?
The Design Council: Managing Green Spaces guide sets out key points for successfully managing green spaces. It also outlines the resources that green space managers can draw on to describe the critical services that green space provides to local communities.
The guide describes seven ‘ingredients for success’ describing the issues that matter but also, importantly, some that distract. Even when these ingredients feel familiar, the new challenge is using them to manage change. The briefing is relevant to all organisations managing green spaces, including housing associations and councils.
The minerals industry has demonstrated good practice in the restoration and on-going management of former mineral sites for habitat creation and people (as illustrated in the Amwell Reserve case study). Nature After Minerals is a partnership between The RSPB and Natural England. The website http://www.afterminerals.com provides advice and recommendations for habitat creation, using a variety of high-quality case studies to demonstrate good practice.
Case study: Fairleigh Gateway, Manor Estate, Sheffield
Consultant: Partnership between Sheffield City Council, Green Estate Ltd, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, The University of Sheffield, Manor and Castle Development Trust, and Fairleigh Development Company.
Development Type: Regenerated green space demonstrating a unique management structure.
A narrow, linear urban greenspace, circa 200m by 10m, at the centre of a neighbourhood shopping centre within an area previously dominated by social housing that is undergoing major regeneration. The site was identified in the regeneration strategy as a gateway to the estate from an adjacent dual carriageway with potential to rejuvenate the shopping area.
After extensive consultation with local residents, the masterplan for the site was agreed and displayed in local shops and post offices. The design was produced based around perennial and herbaceous planting and meadow areas.
The management of the site was split between Street Force (the council’s in house maintenance team), which focused on the traditional amenity grassland areas, and Green Estate Ltd. who took on management of the planting as well as general site maintenance. Management of the space was guided by a maintenance specification based on performance (i.e. the visual appearance of the area) and not frequency of management, as this was difficult for contractors to achieve in a timely fashion. For more information, visit Green Estate.
The minerals industry has demonstrated good practice in the restoration and on-going management of former mineral sites for habitat creation and people (as illustrated in the Amwell Reserve case study). Nature After Minerals is a partnership between The RSPB and Natural England.
After Minerals provides advice and recommendations for habitat creation, using a variety of high-quality case studies to demonstrate good practice.
Working with management bodies
Good maintenance lies at the heart of a quality development. To be most effective, maintenance objectives (usually set out in the management plan) must be accepted, supported and owned by everyone who has a concern or interest in the green space. This includes those involved in management and maintenance, users, and neighbouring residents.
Community-based stewardship can deliver tangible benefits such as encouraging local use, ownership and control, and discouraging vandalism. To be effective, community participation in the management of a site must be pursued at all stages of a development design and detailed in the management plan.
Encouraging stewardship amongst young people is important and most easily achieved through the involvement of schools, community groups such as scouts, and clubs.
Long term resourcing
If the right funding model is not in place from the outset, green spaces can turn into neglected places. A sustainable approach to landscape design should consider ‘whole design life’ i.e. designing places that respond to existing character and future needs (including management needs), and creating places which can adapt and respond to change.
- Land Trust – Green spaces can be managed by a dedicated charitable trust, endowed with profits or vested with assets and which can capture future Section 106 contributions. Successful examples include Hampstead Garden Suburb. Regional Parks and Community Forests also use this model.
- Service charge – Residents can be required to pay a ground rent, essentially a service charge. This approach has been used for more recent attempts to create new communities.
- Partnerships – Partnerships can be established with organisations with the knowledge and skills to manage reserves and green spaces. At Cambourne (see case study above) a wildlife trust will manage the eco-park, with residents and local businesses contributing to overheads.
- Local Taxation – A local tax can be hypothecated to communities that benefit from green spaces. At Wimbledon Common, a 1871 Act of Parliament transferred land to the ‘Conservators’ who collect a tax from households within three quarters of a mile.
Whether a new space is being created, or an existing one improved, it is critical to set up dedicated funding and management arrangements, early in the process. This upfront approach to resourcing and management is demonstrated in the Shenley Park case study.
Community Infrastructure Levy
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) may be a new charge which local authorities will be empowered to levy on development. CIL will provide new resources to contribute to infrastructure provision. The definition of CIL is wide and encompasses play parks, parks and other green spaces. A key benefit of CIL is that contributions can be combined into a ‘single pot’ to fund sub-regional infrastructure which may be ‘off-site’.