These include committing to high quality spaces and to long term maintenance; ensuring improvements are led by residents’ priorities; addressing the needs of children (up to half the population on social housing estates); and promoting healthy living. The action plan advises making places safer: fear about personal safety affects use of open space, especially within black and minority ethnic communities.
The action plan advises taking a joined-up approach – for instance mapping space to decide what improvements are needed; involving partnerships to generate funding; and involving tenants in the creation and management of their spaces. All improvements can provide training opportunities: 25 per cent of social landlords report significant shortages of skilled gardeners and specialist staff such as landscape architects.
The action plan includes examples of good practice and leads landlords to further information and advice. Sheffield Homes, with support from CABE, has embraced a new design-led approach to play on its estates. Work has started on Sheffield Homes’ first natural play area and tenants have been involved in fundraising for more opportunities. Groundwork in Manchester and Salford has improved the design and management of local alleyways that used to be a magnet for antisocial behaviour.
The Neighbourhoods Green partnership will work with social landlords to take forward the actions in the plan.
Sarah Gaventa, Director of Public Space at CABE, said:
‘Too many inner city communities are missing out on the health and wellbeing benefits of quality green space close to home. Social landlords need to create open spaces that residents are proud of and can enjoy – from exciting play areas to restful gardens.’
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