An Open Space Strategy for Merton

Widespread consultation with local people and partnership working with other organizations has resulted in Merton producing its first ever open space strategy.

Merton Open Space Strategy (MOSS) sets out a philosophy and framework for the care and improvement of open space in the borough; including parks, commons, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches and cemeteries. The council has produced the strategy in order to enhance Merton’s abundance of green spaces, improve their quality for users and ensure they are meeting the ever-changing needs of the community.

Seven main issues were identified as a result of talking to residents and people who use open spaces. These include improving accessibility, improving amenities and increasing security and safety in parks.

Some Mitcham residents may have already begun to reap the benefits of the strategy with an effort being made to improve facilities in schools in the area.

The Strategy presents a vision for the future of Merton’s open spaces. It then goes on to describe action plans that need to be carried out in order for the vision to be achieved by 2010. The strategy will be revised every five years.

Merton Open Space Strategy was developed following several detailed studies. Planning consultants, WS Atkins carried out one such study, using focus groups to establish the needs of different users. Another study used the latest advice from Sport England to assess the quality of the borough’s sports pitches.

Several other outside organisations were involved in producing the strategy, including Groundwork Merton, Environment Agency, The National Trust, London Wildlife Trust and English Nature.

Linda Kirby, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Quality, said:

“Open green spaces are an important characteristic of the borough of Merton, and are part of our natural and cultural heritage – for this reason they must be preserved and protected. However, the strategy is also about making sure our open spaces can satisfy the new demands of a changing community.

“Taking this long-term strategy approach will also allow us to apply for public funding for improvements.”

As well as the full-length document, a summary of the strategy is also available. To receive a copy of either, call Merton’s Environmental and Regeneration Department on 020 8545 3041, Leisure Services on 020 8545 3716 or send an email to policyandinformationteam@merton.gov.uk. More information can also be obtained from the council’s website at http://www.merton.gov.uk

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