The NPPF encourages much greater public participation in determining local needs for open space and recreational facilities. Planning policies should be based on robust and up-to-date assessments of the needs for open space, sports and recreation facilities and opportunities for new provision. Planning policies should protect and enhance public rights of way and access and could include towpaths, although such are not specifically mentioned. Adding links to existing rights of way networks including National Trails is suggested.
One innovative measure is the ability for local communities through Local and Neighbourhood Plans to identify green areas for special protection to be known as Local Green Spaces. The loss of these areas can be resisted unless there are very special circumstances. The Government envisages Local Green Spaces will be located conveniently in relation to local communities, will relate to land having a special significance or recreational value, and generally will be local in character rather than an extensive tract of land.
It is possible to consider the opportunities to promote Local Green Spaces in and around our inland waterways.