Tom Arthur MSP: Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments
Planning minister Tom Arthur offers thoughts on the importance of open space and play areas, and encourages responses to the consultation for Open Space Strategies and Play Sufficiency Assessments.
COP26 has reinforced on an international stage, how green spaces, with opportunities to connect with nature and to play in natural settings can bring benefits, not only to the planet but also building resilience in our children and in communities.
Never have they been more important as we recover from the pandemic, tackle the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis.
The new duties on preparing play sufficiency assessments and open space strategies are part of an evidence-led approach to planning. We want to ensure planning authorities have the right data, that they need when preparing their local development plans, and planning for their places.
However, I don’t want them to be seen as check box exercises. This is why we are putting forward an outcomes based approach. It’s vital to think about the full range of multifunctional benefits green infrastructure and play opportunities can offer us as a society. The benefits include supporting early years development and education, improving health and well-being, creating safe and happy neighbourhoods, as well as contributing to the environment, biodiversity and climate resilience.
Open space and play areas are a key part of placemaking and in ensuring our places are distinctive, beautiful, inclusive, greener, healthier and more resilient to climate change. Open space strategies and play sufficiency assessments, will have an important role in delivering on our policy ambitions. They can help facilitate significant expansion of green infrastructure, and support 20 minute neighbourhoods with access to open space and places to play.
We also want to help address inequalities in access to pleasant open spaces and enjoyable places for all children to play outdoors. This is why we want to provide meaningful opportunities through the regulations for people and children to get involved and express their views on the level and quality of provision of open space and opportunities to play in their local area.
The Scottish Government is committed to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which, children’s right to play and the right for their views to be respected are enshrined. Preparing play sufficiency assessments under their new duty can help local authorities upholding the rights of children going forward.
I want to give my thanks to all the members of the Working Group who have so generously given their time and knowledge to work collaboratively with us. I encourage everybody with a view on open space and play to respond to the proposals in this consultation. Let us know your views on the proposals, and help us in sharing the consultation widely.
Together we can help communities across Scotland by supporting greener, healthier and more resilient places – places which are good for our well-being and nature.