Letter: Public parks and spaces as a measure of a civilisation's greatness

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The Independent Online
Sir: Susan Lasdun is right to deplore the neglect of, and threats to, urban open spaces. But a national agency for public parks will not be effective unless it has proper resources and clout.

One problem is that the law protecting open spaces was relaxed in the 1980 Local Government, Planning and Land Act. Before then, an authority wishing to sell or use an open space for another purpose had to offer land that was 'no less in area and equally advantageous to the public' or submit its proposals to Parliament. Now it has merely to advertise its intention and 'consider' objections.

While the law is so feeble, open spaces will remain under threat. Meanwhile, the Open Spaces Society, with funding from the Department of the Environment, is running an urban project to help communities care for and defend their local green spaces. And in four weeks' time we shall publish a do-it-yourself guide to protecting open spaces: Making Space.

So we are doing what we can - with the odds firmly against us.

Yours faithfully,

KATE ASHBROOK

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

27 July

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