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.
Case Study: Panshanger Park, Hertfordshire
Consultant: Lafarge Aggregates
Development Type: Restoration of a former gravel extraction site.
Panshanger Park has been an operational quarry for the last 40 years. The site has been subjected to extensive mineral extraction and phased restoration. Through a phased approach, land from which soil has been extracted is restored as part of the on-going process. Land from which material has not been extracted is also managed to increase biodiversity in line with the Hertfordshire BAP.
To ensure that the restoration process was sympathetic to its surrounding environment, a Management Plan was drawn up and agreed as part of a revised planning permission in 2003. The Management Plan reflects historic aspirations for the site identified through original works by Humphrey Repton and provides the basis for working with harmonising historic restoration with amenity, agriculture, conservation and the parks historic heritage. There are also a large number of ancient trees on the site, including a 500 year old oak tree known as the ‘King of Panshanger’.
Click to enlarge.
The restored land comprises agriculture land, a recreated chalk stream, lakes, wetland scrapes, woodland and veteran tree management. The management plan has been designed to be sympathetic to Repton’s original vision of the park as well as support the objectives of the Hertfordshire BAP. The land is now used to produce cereal crops as well as provide new links to the countryside for local communities.
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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.
What to include in a management plan
The Management Plan should include:
- A description of the current position of a site, any designations, the design concept and long term objectives, how it should develop and a clear programme of how development should be achieved,
- Mechanisms for resolving conflicting uses, should any arise.
- Specification of the mechanisms (legal and other) to be used to ensure effective long term management.
- Current and future land ownerships including future handovers and adoptions, and restrictive covenants, easements and boundary responsibilities.
- Purchasing options such as index-linked land prices.
- Identification of management body (or bodies).
- Arrangements for quality control, routine and specialised monitoring, inspection and handover.
- Maintenance regimes.
- Amendment and Review procedures.
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 maintainance:
- 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?
Examples of good practice are below, starting with CABE's 'Good Practice Guidance on developing Management Plans'.
CABE’s ‘Guide to Producing Park and Green Space Management Plans’
This assists everyone involved in green space management with writing management plans that help them to maintain, develop and improve their green spaces.
There is no single model for a management plan. It can be simple and straightforward or more complex and involved. It depends on the demands of the site, the aspirations of those (staff and community) putting the plan together and what the management plan is intended to do.
The Fairleigh Gateway case study demonstrates an innovative approach to greenspace management, whereby the management is guided by a maintenance specification based on performance (i.e. the visual appearance of the area), rather than the frequency of management.
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 is 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.
Case Study: Shenley Park, Hertsmere
Consultant: Hertsmere Borough Council
Development Type: An established community green space managed by a Charitable Trust and funded by endowments.
Shenley Park is owned by the Borough Council but leased to Shenley Park Trust (long-term), who is responsible for its management and funded by endowments. The site includes a number of buildings that were in the grounds of the hospital that have been converted to new uses. It has retained many elements of the natural environment in the redevelopment of the old hospital site.
A financial endowment of £1.5 million was secured from the developer for establishing the park which has also contributed to the maintenance of the park. Further funding has been obtained from the renovation and letting of buildings (ten properties in total including a stable block converted to flats and Orchard Villa converted to offices).
Three quarters of the revenue income used to maintain and manage the park and Trust comes from property rental rather than investments from the endowment. Community facilities (tea room, walled garden, chapel and the cricket ground) also provide additional sources of income. Commendation from ILAM (Institute of Leisure Management) for Innovative management (2002).
Difficulty in securing revenue funding for the day-to-day management of green spaces was identified in the National Audit Office’s 2006 report on Enhancing Urban Green Space. Some sources of funding for the management of green spaces include:
- Local Authority funding
- Multi Agency Public Sector funding
- Planning and development opportunities
- Voluntary and Community Sector working
- Commercial finance
- Income opportunities
Case Study: Amwell Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire
Client: Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Development Type: Restoration of former gravel pits into a nature reserve.
Located in the Lee Valley, Amwell Nature reserve demonstrates the restoration of former gravel pits in to a diverse wetland nature reserve which is now internationally important to nature conservation (SSSI, Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site) on account of the numbers of wintering water birds which visit the reserve.
Amwell is one of the most important sites in Hertfordshire for otters, following reintroduction here in 1991. It is managed by the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, who applied for a Biffaward (an environment fund, managed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, which utilises landfill tax credits donated by Biffa Waste Services) grant to carry out important work to restore the wetlands and create new habitats.
The Trust was awarded £48,782 in September 2005. Additional funding was secured in 2008 from East of England Development Agency and Growth Area Funding (Green Arc) to improve visitor facilities, including construction of three hides and a seasonal Dragonfly Trail with a boardwalk. The resotriation scheme was Highly Commended in the Natural Environment category at the Biffaward Awards 2008.
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’.