Jesmond Dene glows green as part of new OS mapping to get people outdoors

A Government initiative to make it easier for people to locate and access greenspaces has launched today with the release of a new database and interactive digital map identifying accessible recreational and leisure greenspace in Great Britain. And, naturally, Jesmond Dene is one of the “green lungs” that can be zoomed into on the new map.

Delivered by Ordnance Survey, the free map contains data from OS and other sources, and can be used immediately, for free, through the popular leisure mapping app and online service, OS Maps. This comprehensive map of Great Britain’s greenspaces is also available as an open dataset, called OS Open Greenspace, for communities, businesses and developers to create products and services that will encourage healthier and greener lifestyles.

OS CEO, Nigel Clifford, says: “Geospatial data can transform Governments, businesses and communities for the better. We see that through our work in Great Britain and internationally, and we’re excited to be one of those at the forefront leading this and making contributions of consequence and benefit. I’m particularly proud of this product as it delivers valuable information to the public, via OS Maps, enabling people and families across Great Britain to discover the greenspaces near them. In addition to this, we’re also releasing OS Open Greenspace, providing a freely available dataset for anyone to access. I am excited to see how people experiment and work with the data and look forward to seeing new products and services to help encourage an active Great Britain.”

Since the Greenspace map was reaffirmed as a commitment in 2015, OS has worked in collaboration with a large number of Non-Government Organisations and Government partners to compile the OS Open Greenspace dataset and digital map. Accurately depicted within the dataset is the location and extent of recreational and leisure features and, for larger sites, their access points. Example features included in the data is every public park in Great Britain, every play space, playing field, golf course, public garden, bowling green, allotment and more.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Greenspaces are a vital part of our landscape and this new database and online map will make it easier for people across the country to access greenspaces and lead healthier lives.

“With the completion of this mapping project, we have delivered on an important commitment and shown yet again how innovation can improve everyday lives.”

OS has also produced OS MasterMap (OSMM) Greenspace, a public-sector version of the greenspace map made available through the Public-Sector Mapping Agreement and One Scotland Mapping Agreement. Aimed at giving the public-sector accurate and up-to-date geospatial data to improve planning, analysis and decision making, OSMM Greenspace contains the location of all publicly accessible and non-accessible greenspaces. It is hoped the dataset will prove instrumental in helping the public sector create and manage health and wellbeing strategies, active travel plans and various environmental initiatives that include air quality, biodiversity, housing regeneration and flood resilience.

Help save wildlife in Gosforth and Jesmond Dene from greenbelt housing development

SOS: Save Our Squirrels (and badgers, and roe deer, and bats, and buzzards). Object to these greenbelt building plans online, by email or by post; and come along to meetings to show you’re on the side of the Natural History Society of Northumbria and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

Newcastle City Council is proposing to allow the building of 8,000 new homes on Tyneside land designated as Green Belt, including 600 new homes in the fields next to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve. If the ‘Salter’s Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area’ gets the go-ahead, a crucial wildlife corridor will be destroyed. This will impact on animals in the Gosforth Park Nature Reserve but also in Jesmond Dene.

The plans – contained in Newcastle City Council’s One Core Strategy – are opposed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria and Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

The council’s Strategic Land Review says Green Belt land is important but then illustrates how this Green Belt land will be built upon by developers. Brownfield sites are also considered for development by the council but many potential plots are “complex” (translation: expensive for developers to put right; pristine Green Belt land may be precious but it isn’t complex so is cheaper to develop and will result in fatter profits for house builders).

The Salter’s Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area contains fields that provide essential foraging habitat for wildlife that lives in the nature reserve. Without this habitat this wildlife will be lost forever. This includes families of badgers and roe deer, brown hare, several species of bats and birds such as barn owl, kestrel, and buzzard. Other wildlife in the reserve that would be badly affected by this development includes otters, red squirrels, voles, shrews and small birds. The area is also attractive and peaceful countryside that is well used and loved by local walkers, nature enthusiasts, dog walkers and cyclists.

Ten years ago Newcastle Council designated this area as a Strategic Wildlife Corridor linking Jesmond Dene to the wider countryside.

Further developments since then make this wildlife corridor even more important today. The Government’s Environmental White Paper, published in June, highlights the importance of creating buffer zones around important wildlife sites and retaining wildlife corridors – the Council’s proposal clearly goes against this Government advice.

However, the Government’s new, streamlined planning guidance it will become easier for developers to ride roughshod over the views of local residents.

As environmental campaigner George Monbiot says, the new planning guidance may say it “puts local people in the driving seat of decision making in the planning system” and that “communities will have the power to decide the areas they wish to see developed and those to be protected,” but in reality this won’t be the case.

“It is true that local people, through neighbourhood development orders and community right-to-build orders, will be able to grant planning permission for development that is not envisaged in the council’s local plan. But they’ve been given no powers to prevent development that is contained in the plan – or even development that isn’t. The framework’s new presumption in favour of sustainable development – by which the government means all development except coal-mining – will make it almost impossible to resist a developer’s proposal. It takes a system that is already unfair, unbalanced and undemocratic and makes it even worse.”

Newcastle City Council is consulting people on their views of the plans for Salter’s Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area. We have until 18th November to tell the council what we think.

You can stop the destruction of our wildlife and countryside by telling the Council that you object to their plans. The more people who object the better the chance we have to stop this terrible proposal and to save our wildlife and open spaces for future generations.

The policy to object to is Policy CS3 1a Salter’s Lane Neighbourhood Growth Area.

Alternatively send your comments by email to planning&housingstrategy@newcastle.gov.uk or write to Harvey Emms, Director of Planning, Newcastle City Council, Civic Centre, NE1 8PD.

To demonstrate opposition there’s to be a public walk-about of the area at 11am on Sunday 30th October (meet at the entrance to the nature reserve) and there will be a public meeting with Newcastle planners held at Gosforth Civic Hall, 7pm on Tuesday 15th November.