Open Spaces Society’s ten-point plan for the new government 

Open Spaces Society’s ten-point plan for the new government 

In these tough times, during a cost-of-living and climate crisis, open spaces and paths for health and well-being, close to people’s homes, have never been more important.  The society sets out what it wants from the next government. 

Public access 

1Early consultation on how to improve access for all

The new government must treat public access as a priority.  An early consultation would signal its good intentions.

2. Greater public access to woods and water

Extend responsible freedom to roam under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to woodlands, watersides, and water, bringing access close to home.

3Funding for new and upgraded access rights

Government to fund permanent new access, upgraded access for all unpowered and disabled users, and improved access along existing rights of way, where it is needed, under the Environmental Land Management Schemes, and by other means.

Common land 

4. Greater protection for common land

Impose a duty on county and unitary councils to enforce against unlawful encroachments on commons.

5. Re-registration of lost commons

Extend the ability to re-register lost commons to the whole of England (it is only currently possible in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and Wales).

Town and village greens 

6Mandate for registration in new development

Developments over a certain size or density to include open space which must be registered as a town or village green, to ensure the land is protected for all to enjoy.

Open spaces 

7Local authorities to provide funding for, and management of, open spaces

They are vital for health and well-being and their future must be secured.  Funding must not be driven by commercial exploitation.

8A duty to provide good-quality, safe, open space close to home

Implement the promise in the Environmental improvement Plan.

Public paths 

9. Simple process for public to get paths fit for use

Public paths and minor roads to be made fit for use by a simple procedure whereby a member of the public serves notice on the highway authority to require the way to be maintained and kept clear, regardless of who has the responsibility for this.

10. Repeal 2031 cut-off for completing definitive maps of rights of way

The guillotine, by which rights on historic, unrecorded paths are extinguished on 1 January 2031, to be repealed.

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