What is a community green space
A community green space is an outdoor area that is accessible to the whole community. The community is fully involved with from its design and creation to its management and maintenance
The benefits can vary depending on the type of project. For example, a small park, an allotment, a community garden or a wildlife area.
Green spaces are often taken for granted, unmanaged or neglected this can have many negative impacts to the local environment and community especially to the wildlife that has thrived to an area that was once a haven for them.
Although they can be somewhat challenging at times, there are many activities that can be completed to make a difference and create a green space for the community to enjoy.
Benefits of a community green space
Creating a community green space can;
- Enable you to have a share in a local resource.
- Establish an ideal location for leisure or recreation.
- Allows the community to meet likeminded individuals.
- Provide an outdoor classroom.
- Increase community involvement to the natural environment.
- Help individuals and/or groups to develop new skills.
- Raise awareness for local environmental issues.
- Provide an environment that is greener and promotes local wildlife.
- Provide members of the public with a sense of pride.
- Enables the local community to grow fresh produce and promote healthy living.
Find a suitable site for your new community green space
Before you are able to plan, design and develop a green space in your community, you’ll need to research your local area to establish a location for your green space.
Research your community
Use free online resources such as Google Maps, Bing Maps, OSMaps or StreeMap to examine the layout of your local community including woodlands and facilities so that you can select a few suitable, accessible and central areas for your green space.
Speaking to the local public can allow you to identify potential areas that can be converted to a green space, increase awareness of your proposals and even identify possible volunteers.
Permission and land ownership
Once you have identified areas suitable for your green space, you’ll need to contact the land owners to obtain written permission for your activities.
Your local authority will be able to help identify the registered land owner for you, there may also be a charge for this request.
Be sure to clearly state your intentions including how the green space will be managed and identify who will be responsible for the liability should legal action be required in the future.
Conduct a wildlife survey
Over a period of time, monitor and survey the local wildlife that is present at your chosen site. This will help you towards the future to see the impact your green space has had on nature.
This will be a great opportunity for you to identify any protected species such as dormice, great crested newts and protected plants. We strongly advice that you seek advice if you discover any protected species.
Speak to your local authority, likeminded individuals and organisations for advice for best practice as there are many organisations that may be able to assist you with your green space.
- Keep Wales Tidy can provide advice for ensuring that your green space is clean and may be able to provide assistance.
- Your local authority may be able to provide you with equipment to assist with the development of your green space.
- The Wales Council for Voluntary Action may be able to help you recruit volunteers for the development of your green space.
- Your local County Voluntary Council can assist with volunteering and funding advice.
Organise a local meeting
Organise a meeting in a local and accessible venue to promote your ideas and any information that you have gathered.
You should invite;
- The local public.
- Any environmental groups in the area.
- The local press.
- The local MP.
- Your local authority.
Encourage attendees to highlight aspects of a green space that need creating and ask you any questions that are unanswered. You could even produce a document following the meeting to confirm any changes and answered questions regarding your green space.
Designing and promoting your green space
A design is essential to any green space as it can improve the use of any new or existing area. The design of a community green space, or changes to an existing green space, will need to represent and involve all users and potential users of a site. Many organisations can offer design advice to help you with this.
Once you have developed your green space, organize an open day to promote your activities.
Maintain your green space
You’ll need to have a strategy plan in place to maintain your new green space
It is important to think about who will maintain the new site once it is created. This needs to be considered from the very beginning. You may choose to do this through local volunteers, or to pay somebody; you may even get help from your local authority. It is really important to develop a plan for this. These plans are sometimes called a management plan. An expert organisation(s) may be able to offer guidance on the creation of management plans.
Before applying for funding, you should consider:
- What do you want to achieve from your group or project?
- Why do you want to achieve this?
- Who will benefit from your group or project?
- Where could you perform your activities?
- When could you provide this group or project?
You should also consider
- How can you prove that you have achieved what it set out for your group or project?
- How can you analyse impact of your group or project?
- How will you analyse the success of your group or project?
Any group considering fundraising should contact their local County Voluntary Council. Such services can provide detailed advice and guidance on all issues relating to fundraising.
Depending on the size and nature of your project, you will also need to think about the following:
Think about the skills needed to successfully obtain funding such as written and verbal communication skills, enthusiasm, creativity, organisational abilities & commitment and identify people in your group who have these skills.
You should also identify any potentially helpful contacts you or your group already has (such as local businesses and organisations) to help secure your funding.