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Local Green Space Designation

The following site was submitted outside of the consultation period for inclusion in the new Local Plan:

Assessment of late submission site for consideration as Local Green Space [pdf document]

June 2018 Update

The Council held a consultation between February and March 2018 for six weeks to allow sites to be submitted for consideration. Seventeen sites were submitted for consideration for designation and seven of these have been recommended for designation in the Draft Local Plan. A report of the assessment process for these sites is now available:

Local Green Space Designation Report  - June 2018 [pdf, loads in separate window]

Consultation on the Draft Local Plan ran until 2 August 2018.  


The Natural Environment White Paper (The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature 2011) highlighted “the importance of green spaces to the health and happiness of local communities”. Green spaces, particularly natural green spaces, located close to local people provide a range of social, environmental and economic benefits, including – 

  • improved mental and physical health
  • increased social activity
  • increased physical activity
  • reduced crime
  • improvements to children’s learning
  • increased voluntary action
  • improved community cohesion and sense of belonging
  • potential for local food growing
  • more attractive places to live, work, play, visit and invest
  • enhanced opportunities for wildlife habitats and wildlife corridors
  • climate change adaptation for example by flood alleviation 

The White Paper recommended that a new Green Areas designation be introduced that would give local people an opportunity to protect green spaces that have significant importance to their local communities. 

‘We propose that green spaces should be identified in neighbourhood plans and local plans which complement and do not undermine investment in homes, jobs and other essential services. Given the importance of green spaces to the health and happiness of local communities the Government considers the new designation should offer suitably strong protection to localised areas that are demonstrably special ….’ 

That recommendation was incorporated into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as the new designation of Local Green Spaces. 

The Policy Context

National Planning Policy Framework

 The NPPF provides the following information on Local Green Space designations –

 76. Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Identifying land as Local Green Space should therefore be consistent with the local planning of sustainable development and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services. Local Green Spaces should only be designated when a plan is prepared or reviewed, and be capable of enduring beyond the end of the plan period.

77. The Local Green Space designation will not be appropriate for most green areas or open space. The designation should only be used: 

  • where the green space is in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;
  • where the green area is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
  • where the green area concerned is local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

78. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with policy for Green Belts. 

Additional guidance is provided in National Planning Practice Guidance.

Local and Neighbourhood Plans

Local Green Spaces can be designated through the emerging Darlington Local Plan or through neighbourhood plans. A policy, related to Local Green Spaces, will be included in the emerging Darlington Local Plan. 

Where relevant an appropriate policy should also be included in neighbourhood plans. 

Further information can be seen within our Frequently Asked Questions.

Procedure for Designation

As part of the consultation on the Draft Local Plan the Council sought views on the sites already submitted by local communities for designation but also offered the opportunity for further sites to be submitted prior to the final plan being submitted.

If your community is considering designating an area as a Local Green Space, consider the criteria listed below to see if designation of the site would be appropriate. You can contact the Planning Policy Team at Darlington Borough Council at [email protected] for help in deciding whether to progress with the designation process. If a Local Green Space designation is not appropriate, there are alternatives which can be considered. 

If the site appears suitable you should complete the Local Green Space Submission form. To ensure the process of designating sites is robust and able to withstand challenge and scrutiny from a Planning Inspector it is important that ample evidence is provided with your proposal. Ask local groups to help you with this.

Following your submission we will review the evidence and give guidance as to whether the site is suitable for designation and whether further evidence is required. 

If the site is appropriate the land owner (if known) will be consulted and the site will be tested through the plan process which includes further public consultation. The council will also consider what impact the designation would have on sustainable development. 

If appropriate the site will be included within the Darlington Local Plan and be examined by a Planning Inspector who will ensure that the plan is robust and based on sound evidence. The site will be formally designated when the Local Plan is approved. 

Further information can be seen within our Frequently Asked Questions.

Criteria for Designation 

There are no restrictions on the type of green space which can be designated as Local Green Space.

Allotments or urban spaces that provide a tranquil oasis could be designated. Land which is partly developed with structures such as sports pavilions, boating lakes or war memorials could also be appropriate. The key characteristic for the designation should be the particular importance to the local community.

 The NPPG advises that land already subject to a designation could be proposed as Local Green Space, taking into consideration the benefits to be gained. Following this advice, Darlington Borough Council does not envisage there would be a beneficial gain in designating the following:

  • Special Protection Areas: protected under the EC Birds Directive (79/409/EEC)
  • Special Areas of Conservation: protected under the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), transposed into UK law by the ‘Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010’.
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest: protected under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Local Nature Reserves: protected by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. These sites are owned, leased or managed by Darlington Borough Council.
  • Registered village greens and common land: protected by the Commons Act 2006
  • Registered Parks and Gardens. For Darlington these are South Park and West Cemetery  protected by Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 

To find out if your site is already designated please visit or the relevant Darlington Borough Council webpage 


A site proposed as Local Green Space must meet the criteria set out within the NPPF:

      1.  Land must meet all the following criteria:

  • Demonstrably special to local community
  • Reasonable close proximity to the community serves
  • Local in character
  • Not an extensive tract of land
  • Not an area with extant planning permission within which the Local Green Space could not be accommodated 
  1. Land must hold particular local significance for at least one of the following reasons:
  • Beauty
  • Historic Significance
  • Recreational value
  • Tranquillity
  • Wildlife
  • Other reason 
  1. Designating land as Local Green Space should:
  • be consistent with local planning of sustainable development
  • complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services 

The submission form provides prompts to help you show how the site meets points 1 and 2 of the NPPF criteria. The borough council will need to consider what impact the designation would have on sustainable development.

Further information can be seen within our Frequently Asked Questions.


Alternatives to Local Green Space

Assets of Community Value 

Parish councils or local community groups can nominate both privately and publicly owned assets which meet the definition of community value. This is now a legal right due to the introduction of the Community Right (sometimes called the "Community Right to Bid"). If an asset is listed and then comes up for sale, the new right could give communities a total of six months to put together a bid to buy it (including a six-week cut-off for an initial proposal to be put forward). For further information please see: [external website]


Agreements with land-owners 

It may be possible for local communities to reach either formal or informal agreements with the owner of the site to ensure access to the site for local people. This may be an appropriate option where the site owner has a long-term connection with the local area, for example the owner of a large historic estate. It may be possible for the land-owner to dedicate the site as “open access land”.


Further information: 

Guidance note on the dedication of land under the countryside and rights of way act 2000 


Community Purchase

 In some instances local communities have purchased important sites to ensure that they remain in community control in perpetuity. The ownership can lie with the Borough or Parish Council or with a specific trust. Examples of how communities have purchased sites can be found at:


Local Nature Reserves

A Local Nature Reserve (LNR) provides people with special opportunities to study or learn about nature or simply to enjoy it. Local Nature Reserves are designated by the council and the local authority must control the LNR through ownership, lease or agreement with the owner.

For further information please contact Phil Roxby on (01325) 406229.


Village Green status

Anyone can apply to register land as a village green if it has been used by local people for lawful sports and pastimes “as of right‟ (ie without permission, force or secrecy) for at least 20 years.

Further information on existing Village Greens and how to register a site can be found at: