Newcastle City Council has been consulting on how to use the neighbourhood proportion of the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is paid by developers as part of the planning process for major developments. 15% of this levy (known as CIL) is earmarked for neighbourhood infrastructure, and will amount to about £200k over the next three years (increasing over time). The Council has proposed use of this money to fund open space, recreation grounds, trees and children's play parks within the quarter of the city where the CIL money has been raised.
Our response to the consultation broadly supports the Council's proposal, adding a need to emphasise provision of more equal access to green open space, and the need to maintain that space in a way that supports biodiversity.
Our call for better access to open green space shows how Councils could deliver on the commitments within the Green Party's Political Programme (see under Quality of Life for All, on the final page).
The text of our response is as follows:
"Equality of access to nature and green spaces should be an important part of Council policy, to enhance leisure, health and wellbeing. We therefore support the proposed use of the neighbourhood CIL proportion, subject to choosing projects with a view to enabling every resident to access green open space within 5 minutes' walk from where they live. This open space needs to be safe, pollution-free and maintained in a way that supports biodiversity.
"In light of the need to better support biodiversity and better transport in future housing developments, we would also advocate adjustment of the CIL charging schedule to reward residential developments that are biodiversity-friendly (e.g. incorporating wildflower meadows, tree planting, hedgehog highways through fences, bea roads, swift bricks, bat boxes, ponds), and those with good walking, cycling and public transport links to avoid increased car dependence."