During March 2022, we asked for people’s feedback on Southampton’s green spaces.
We wanted to find out what people who live, work, study or visit Southampton think about the green spaces in the city. We wanted this information to help us identify how our green spaces could be improved and more connected, how that might be achieved and whether there were any specific locations we needed to prioritise efforts in creating our Green Grid (our linked green infrastructure) for the city of Southampton.
We received thousands of comments on the interactive map (where you could simply drop a pin and provide a comment). We also received several emails and paper questionnaires, together with over 800 responses to our on-line questionnaire. This is one of the most successful public consultations that Southampton City Council has ever had. It shows that people really care about the city and are passionate to see improvements. The need to green the grey for health and well-being, restore habitats for our declining wildlife, improve air quality and think about ways the city can adapt to climate change.
Were there any specific locations that people mentioned more than others?
St James Park, Peartree Green, the Sports Centre and the Common were some of the sites that received the most positive feedback – people said they like spending time at these locations and feel these sites are safe and well-maintained. Sites which people commented on negatively included Rollesbrook (forgotten, not maintained, almost inaccessible) and Weston Shore (derelict shelters, missed opportunity for a great location on the seafront). Comments suggested that Mayflower Park showed significant opportunities for change.
What issues were most common?
An overwhelming number of comments related to the need for more green space, better access to nature, the need to restore and help nature in our city and for our outdoor spaces to be somewhere that people could enjoy. There is a concern about the general decline in habitat (quality and extent) for wildlife in the city.
People commented on the value of gardens and concerns raised about losing front gardens to provide car parking. People said they wanted more green connections, more tree planting, more sensitively designed development (including green roofs/walls) and making the city centre a car-free area (reducing air pollution and improving access for pedestrians). People said there is scope for improvement on the standard of new developments and want them to offer more green infrastructure.
Many felt the city needed more local nature reserves (LNRs) (accessible green space that is for wildlife and people) and those LNRs we have would benefit from better management. The majority of respondents recognised that greening the city would be a big challenge, needing buy-in from everyone, developers, residents and businesses. A significant number of responses cited Associated British Ports (ABP), specifically, as needing to contribute to making the city greener.
Working with Geodata at the University of Southampton, we have developed a Green Grid map that identifies priorities for introducing and improving green networks across the city. The Green Grid map is included in our new draft Local Plan, with a set of supporting policies, seeking to halt the decline of biodiversity, increase species diversity and species populations and restore natural habitat across the city. Policies which will help guide well-designed, high-quality developments that deliver suitable green infrastructure. Consultation on the Local Plan started on 31October and ran up to 23 December 2022.
The inclusion of the Green Grid map and associated policies is part of wider Green Grid Action Plan. We are also looking at how the council can manage its own landholding, services and projects differently to support the Green Grid and how it might also work with city communities and stakeholders to build a programme of specific projects designed to enhance our green works.
We will encourage partnership working to help deliver projects on the ground and seek funding to support the delivery of those projects. There is a lot of work to be done but, with the help of communities, the commercial sector and with good planning advice, we believe we can create a Southampton that people are passionate about and proud to live in and visit.
There will be further opportunities for feedback, for people to provide ideas on how we can develop and implement a Green Grid for our city. In the development of this Green Grid Strategy, we are reaching out and engaging with key groups across the city, seeking opportunities to involve and support other schemes like the Southampton National Park City (SNPC) and Wilder Southampton (with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT)).W e hope to publish the Green Grid map soon and will, once again, provide further opportunity for feedback.
To accompany the Green Grid, we want to pull together our wider aspirations and intentions for nature in the city. We plan to consult on the council’s first Biodiversity Strategy during 2023. This will seek to further address other priorities identified during the Green Grid consultation, alongside requirements of the Environment Act 2021 and opportunities presented by emerging needs and issues; top of the agenda and most importantly, is climate change.
If you would like to read the full report that summarises the feedback on the Southampton Green Grid Common Place consultation which took place during March 2022, please contact the Hawthorns centre by email Hawthorns@Southampton.gov.uk.