Last edited 15 Feb 2021

Open space definition

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines open space as: 'All open space of public value, including not just land, but also areas of water (such as rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs) which offer important opportunities for sport and recreation and can act as a visual amenity.'

The London Plan, published by the Mayor of London in March 2016, defines open space as: ‘All land in London that is predominantly undeveloped other than by buildings or structures that are ancillary to the open space use. The definition covers the broad range of types of open space within London, whether in public or private ownership and whether public access is unrestricted, limited or restricted.’

The SuDS Manual, CIRIA C753, published in 2015 defines 'public open space' (POS) as: '...any land laid out as public garden or used for the purposes of public recreation. This means space that has unimpeded public access and that is of a suitable size and nature for sport, active or passive recreation or children and teenagers' play. Private or shared amenity areas, for example in a development of flats or buffer landscape areas are not included as public open space.'

The Scottish Building Standards, Part I. Technical Handbook – Domestic, Appendix A Defined Terms, suggests public open space: ‘…includes land used as a public park or for public recreation or as a burial ground.’

See also: Communal open space and Protected open space and Open Space Strategies.

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