Quality statement 3: Public open spaces

Quality statement

Local authorities involve community members in designing and managing public open spaces.

Rationale

Local authorities play a vital role in protecting, maintaining and improving local spaces and creating new areas of open space to improve access for everyone to move more without the need for direct, costly interventions. Open spaces should be viewed positively as inclusive community assets. They should be fully used wherever possible to support the health and wellbeing of people of all ages and abilities.

Working in partnership with community members is important to identify local priorities and ensure that these are met when designing and managing public open spaces. Tackling health inequalities, such as physical activity, can be more effective if people from marginalised and deprived communities and those who are socially isolated are seen as valuable contributors to the local assets.

Quality measures

Structure

a) Evidence that local authorities and community members work in partnership to make decisions on the design and management of public open spaces.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, health impact assessments, management plans, consultation reports, council meeting minutes and public open space user surveys.

b) Evidence that local authorities encourage community members to help to maintain public open spaces by reporting any problems affecting accessibility and use.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, council websites, council meeting minutes and public open space user surveys.

Outcome

Percentage of people using outdoor space for exercise or health reasons.

Data source: National data is included in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for England 2016 to 2019 indicators 1.16 Utilisation of outdoor space for exercise/health reasons.

What the quality statement means for different audiences

Local authorities (such as public open space management teams) work together with community members to share their knowledge of how existing spaces function and recognise the value of better public open spaces in their community to encourage physical activity. They should encourage the views and support the needs of the local people when designing open spaces for the community. They also support the use of these public open spaces for physical activity, and their maintenance, and ensure they can be accessed by public transport, on foot and by bike.

Community members have a key role in working together with the local authority to identify local physical activity needs and make decisions on the co-design and management of public open spaces. They have confidence that their opinions are valued as highly as the views of the professionals involved in the process. They should contribute their local knowledge and may help to carry out user surveys on these spaces.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Community members

These will include local volunteers and residents in communities of geographical location, race, ethnicity, age, occupation, a shared interest or affinity (such as religion and faith) or other common bonds such as disability, health need or disadvantage. People who are socially isolated are also considered to be a community group.

[Adapted from NICE's guideline on community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities]

Public open spaces

These include blue, green and grey spaces:

  • Blue spaces – such as sea, rivers, lakes and canals.

  • Green spaces – such as urban parks, open green areas, woods and forests, coastland and countryside, and paths and routes connecting them.

  • Grey spaces – areas of developed land such as urban squares and pedestrian areas.

[NICE's guideline on physical activity and the environment, glossary]

Equality and diversity considerations

Community members should have confidence that their opinions are valued as highly as the views of the professionals involved in the process. They should contribute their local knowledge to open space management plans and proposals during engagement stages and may help to carry out user surveys on these spaces.

Local authorities and community members should also support and encourage low income communities and other least active groups such as older people and people with disabilities (including sensory, visual and learning disabilities) to be more physically active. They should encourage them to use their local public open spaces for free and ensure that they have enhanced, safe facilities and access.