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Part of: Natural Environment

Related to: Inequalities, Ill Health and Disability, Mental Health and Illness, Biodiversity, Cultural ActivitiesEcosystem Services, Special Educational Needs, Physical ActivityActive Travel , Voicebox Resident Survey

Green infrastructure refers to the network of natural spaces and corridors across a given area. It can be made up of a wide range of green assets such as open spaces, parks and gardens, allotments, woodlands, street trees, green roofs, fields, hedges, lakes, ponds, meadows and grassland playing fields, as well as footpaths, cycleways and waterways. These are the “soft” places and edges of our built communities and the natural habitats and beautiful landscapes of our rural areas that together quietly control the background to our health and well-being. In recent years the important and multiple benefits that green infrastructure can bring to people, places and nature have often been overlooked or at best under-valued. The concept of green infrastructure has been developed to turn this around. The Government White Paper (June 2011) – the Natural Choice: securing the value of nature states that “A healthy, properly functioning natural environment is the foundation of sustainable economic growth, prospering communities and personal wellbeing”. 1

Bath and North East Somerset benefits from a unique and in places, outstanding natural environment. Where this is linked with good public access and recreational opportunities it provides invaluable assets for developing and supporting healthy, happy and vibrant local communities.

The Council values the natural environment very highly and is committed through Council Vision and Values and the Draft Core Strategy to maintaining and improving it. The Green Infrastructure Strategy provides a framework to work with partners and the community to make the most of the benefits that the natural environment can and should be providing for people, places and nature within and beyond the district. 2

To find out about the benefits of Green Infrastructure and Spaces see the Natural Environment

What does the community say?

Voicebox Resident Survey 3 4

The large scale Voicebox Resident Survey aims to provide an insight into Bath and North East Somerset and its local communities and to capture resident’s views on their local area and council services. In 2015 and 2016 the questionnaires were posted to 3,650 addresses selected randomly in the local authority area.  In 2015 a total of 1,067 residents completed the questionnaire, a response rate of 29%, and in 2016 a total of 1,113 residents completed it, a response rate of 31%.

Waterways 5

The 2016 Voicebox Survey asked residents about their views and use of waterways (e.g. rivers, streams and canals) in B&NES.

Click here to see the results of the Waterways questions in the 2016 Voicebox Resident Survey

Natural green spaces in the local area 6 

The 2015 Voicebox Survey asked residents about their views and experiences of natural green spaces in their local area.

Importance of views, natural spaces and access to the countryside - Respondents to the 2015 Voicebox Survey were asked how important they thought the following were in a local area:

  • Views of natural features
  • Spaces to enjoy and experience nature
  • Easy access to the surrounding countryside

Nearly three quarters of respondents outlined each of the three factors as being very important in a local area: views of natural features (74%); spaces to enjoy and experience nature (74%); and easy access to the surrounding countryside (73%).

Virtually all respondents outlined each of the three factors as being very or fairly important in a local area: views of natural features (96%); spaces to enjoy and experience nature (96%); and easy access to the surrounding countryside (95%).

Plenty of places in their local area where they enjoy and experience nature - When respondents to the 2015 Voicebox Survey were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement ‘that there are plenty of places in my local area where I can enjoy and experience nature’, 76% agreed that there were, and only 10% disagreed.

However...

Figure 1:Proportion of 2015 Voicebox respondents who agreed that there were plenty of places in their local area where they can enjoy and experience nature by income (deprivation) 7

Accessibility of natural green spaces - Respondents to the 2015 Voicebox Survey were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that natural green spaces in their local area are easily accessible by public transport or by walking/cycling…

Figure 2:Proportion of 2015 Voicebox respondents who agreed that natural green spaces in their local area were easily accessible by public transport or by walking/cycling8

However, these responses indicate that far fewer residents think that natural green spaces are easily accessible via public transport compared to by walking/cycling.

Also, a significantly lower proportion of respondents living outside Bath (43%) agreed that natural green spaces in their local area were easily accessible by public transport compared to those living in Bath (57%).9

Frequency of visiting natural green spaces - When respondents to the 2015 Voicebox Survey were asked how often they visited natural green spaces in their local area 61% said they did so on either on a weekly or daily basis , 25% stated they did almost every day and only 3% said they never visited them.10

Figure 3: The frequency 2015 Voicebox respondents said they visited natural green spaces their local area.11

However, a significantly lower proportion of respondents in the most deprived communities (51%) in B&NES said they visited green spaces in their local area almost every day or at least once a week, compared to those in the least deprived communities (66%).12

Opportunities to get actively involved in conservation and volunteering - Respondents to the 2015 Voicebox Survey were asked whether they would like more opportunities to get actively involved with the management, care and enjoyment of natural green spaces through conservation, volunteering projects or events, 26% of respondents said they would.13

Are we meeting the needs? 14 15

Bath & North East Somerset covers an area of approximately 350 km2, and two thirds of the area is designated as a green belt. 16 

The Council manages and maintains 50 hectares of formal parkland as well as 200 hectares of public open space, and highway verges. Included within this are parks, recreation grounds and public open spaces, floral displays, allotments, trees, woodland and parks and open spaces events.

The Council also manages a large number of sports pitches including 124 football pitches, 42 cricket pitches and 62 Rugby pitches (some of which are in poor condition/in need of more)

There are over 900km of Public Rights of Way - Footpaths, Bridleways and Byways Open to All Traffic - criss-crossing the countryside and towns of Bath & North East Somerset.

This network provides a vast range of opportunities to explore the great outdoors The ROWIP (Rights of Way Improvement Plan ) research identified the need for high quality walking and cycling routes connecting housing to schools, shops, employment, recreation and sports facilities.

Parks 17

The council looks after the following 10 formal parks within Bath and North East Somerset:

Allotments 18

There are 24 allotments in Bath city providing 1108 plots, there is generally a waiting list of 1-4 years.

The average size of an allotment plot in Bath is 125 square metres, & generally plots range from 50m2 to 150m2

There are also an additional 25 allotments outside Bath which are not managed by Bath and North East Somerset Council providing aver 650 plots 

There is an allotment site in Monksdale road which is for disabled residents only and holds 133 plots. There are 2 part time horticultural therapists who work on site which are paid for by the NHS

The council is promoting more local use of allotments (trying to match residents with the sites nearest their home address) in order to reduce the carbon footprint.

Access to the countryside 19

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has given people the right of pedestrian access to more areas of the countryside such as mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land, known as 'Access Land'.

This new right is for pedestrians only and does not extend to horse riders, mountain bikers or people driving or riding in a vehicle.

The principle areas of countryside within Bath and North East Somerset where there is public access are:

 Principle areas of countryside with public access in Bath and North East Somerset

Figure 3: Principle areas of countryside with public access in Bath and North East Somerset 20