New benchmark guidelines for the design of spaces for outdoor sport and play have been published by Fields In Trust Cymru; 'Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play: Beyond the Six Acre Standard', was launched at Green Space Wales Symposium for practitioners on 25 January. The guidance is a crucial tool for local planning authorities, developers, planners, urban designers and landscape architects in the design of outdoor sport, play and informal open space. It is provided as free-to-use interactive PDF on the Fields in Trust website www.fit.org
This guidance has been produced to reflect a new planning policy landscape. Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (2012), the introduction of The Localism Act (2011) and the phased introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy all combine to change how local planning operates. Additionally the devolved administrations have each determined the detail and operation of their own primary planning legislation. To reflect these different systems and take account of specific legislation, such as the Well-being of Future generations Act, the Fields in Trust Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play has been reconfigured in a special edition for Wales, and available in a Welsh language version.
As part of its work, Fields in Trust has supported practitioners since the 1930s on open space provision and design originally identified as the "Six Acre Standard". This new guidance backed up by research retains the same headline rates of provision, but draws out new recommendations for accessibility, for flexible application of standards and the minimum dimensions of formal outdoor space. This revision of the guidelines introduces benchmarking for informal open space - places for recreation, not involving organised sport and play - and includes parks and gardens, and natural and semi-natural habitats. The guidance also no longer differentiates between urban and rural areas.
Changing planning arrangements and national sports governance across the UK require specific policy responses in versions for England, Scotland and Wales. Alongside the updated guidance for Wales - editions for England and Scotland are also available as online tools.
Fields in Trust Chief Executive Helen Griffiths said: "Adopting this guidance will help planners and designers ensure that the provision of outdoor sport, play and informal open space is of sufficient size to enable effective public use, in an accessible location close to local communities. It is important that outdoor space has a design quality which will maintain its longevity and to encourage continued use."