Communities invited to invest in the future of local open spaces

30 Apr 2013 @ 5.06 pm
| News

Issued by City of York Council

More residents in York are to be invited to share their skills and get involved in the management of local informal open spaces, inspired by other community projects and the new Smarter York approach.

The Smarter Charter was launched in March by City of York Council’s cabinet. It aims to channel the talents of ward members, residents and community organisations such as residents’ associations, parish councils, business and voluntary sector organisations, to support the work of the council to maintain public spaces within available budgets and as pleasant, community assets.

By offering local people opportunities to personally invest in these green spaces, the council aims to add to a number of inspiring projects running in York, as well as in Sheffield, the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, which already successfully maintain and develop local, public land. It is also a timely invitation as the city prepares to work with Yorkshire Probation Service’s Community Payback scheme on a city-wide spring clean in May.

Community projects already working in this collaborative way and which will offer support and inspiration to new groups include:

  • Bishophill Senior Community Garden – a community garden created and maintained within the graveyard of St Mary’s Church which was demolished in the 1960s
  • Friends of Chapman’s Pond – a longstanding group with a recently-agreed management plan for the area which comprises seven acres of land with a fishing pond and woodland off Moor Lane
  • Greenfields, Haxby Road – in response to the local school’s request for help in 2012, local residents joined York Cares to launch a Big Community Challenge to help revitalise a disused school playing field, resulting in donations from local businesses and the labour of 150 volunteers to create a community garden and allotment. The field continues to be managed by local volunteers and is used by pupils as an outdoor classroom
  • Danesmead Wood, Fishergate – a group of local residents approached the council in 2011 for help to improve and manage the woodland blighted by anti-social behaviour. Two years on, a formal committee now cares for the land and, through grants, are creating a sustainable, open space shared by dog walkers and young people alike
  • Wigginton verges – two residents maintain the highway verges in their street
  • Woodthorpe Shops, Moorcroft Road – four raised flower beds owned by the local supermarket, has given rise to the ‘Woodthorpe Hoppers’, a small group of residents and school pupils who are now maintaining the beds, seeking funding to improve them, and creating an attractive focal point to the busy shopping area
  • Churchfields Committee, Wigginton – this group works closely with the parish council to maintain and manage green space off Church Lane, providing open green space, play area and provision for dog walkers.

Workshops to be held at the new Residents Forums and Parish Council Liaison Meetings will consult local people about their views on open spaces in their ward, assessing the appetite and potential for greater community involvement in managing and maintaining them.

The council will then assess the potential for each project and support it with, for example, investing in appropriate tools or machinery, supporting safe working practices, and training volunteers. The council will continue to cut open grassed areas and will maintain grass height at between 25mm and 100mm.

Councillor David Levene, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “We’re inviting even more local people to take action to help maintain their local spaces.

“As illustrated by the inspiring examples of existing community groups in York and in other regions, getting involved gives them the chance to personally invest in the open green spaces alongside the council and is a way of ensuring their lasting future.”

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