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The Big Picture

You are in: Derby > The Big Picture > Big Picture: Green spaces in the city

Cathedral Green

Cathedral Green - as it was

Big Picture: Green spaces in the city

Should more effort be made to create and preserve parks and wildlife spaces in Derby and our local towns? Or are there higher priorities?

For our latest 'Big Picture' debate, we're looking at the idea of green spaces in Derby.

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust recently suggested huge amounts of green space has been lost across the city over the past few decades as more housing is built, existing home-owners opt for patios or decking and the city centre is developed.

The arguments are complex and the number of obstacles faced in creating and maintaining urban spaces seems to be growing.

Inside The sanctuary nature reserve

The Sanctuary reserve at Pride Park

For a start, there's funding. Councils need to find and apply for funds for city and town green spaces - and it's not usually a cheap option.

And landowners with a few spare acres are usually less inclined to spend money on wildlife when they know they can sell their land for redevelopment and make a killing.

All too often, the 'brownfield' sites they own (of which there are many in Derby and our towns) become havens for wildlife while they are in a state of neglect. But when the bulldozers move in, the wildlife has to move out.

And sometimes these brownfield sites become nothing more than dumping grounds for fly-tippers - good for neither man nor wildlife.

Grab a garden

Other obstacles include 'garden grabbing'. Because, under current legislation, our own back gardens can be classified as "brownfield", developers can buy a house with a large garden, apply for planning permission to pull down the house and build either houses, flats, or perhaps a mini-estate in its place!

Local councils have targets to meet for new housing and for brownfield redevelopment and so, according to campaigners, our gardens are disappearing.

A roof over your head

But should all this be balanced against the demand for more affordable housing?

With the number of people waiting for homes in Derby alone in the thousands, many would argue that somewhere for humans to live is more important than a home for other creatures.


And then there's the point of view that says green space is about neither wildlife nor housing - it's about having somewhere to go. Somewhere peaceful. Somewhere green and tranquil.

Many green spaces are also useful barriers in themselves - separating houses from busy roads and industrial areas. But if these spaces are replaced it is entirely possible that more and more houses and estates will be shielded by only bricks and mortar.

Your view: your stories

So if Derby's green spaces are disappearing, what can we do to stop it? And do we even want to?

Volunteer groups have offered to help maintain and develop green spaces within the city. They say the parks improve the quality of life for people living in Derby and the sanctuaries are vital to help care for our wildlife.

But what do you think?

Is the priority the conservation of wildlife or meeting our housing demands.

Are green spaces important? Do we need more or less of them? And should they be for people, wildlife - or both?

It's a complicated subject and so Aleena Naylor's programme will be taking a close look at the issue and will try to reach some conclusions on where we go from here.

Your comments...

Here's a challenge to Derbyshire's local authorities.
At the moment, Liverpool is the European capital of culture - so why don't we strive to turn Derbyshire into the European capital of wildlife?
How? By encouraging wildlife at every opportunity in our towns and city, by keeping green spaces green.
Our councils need to have the guts to grant planning permission to only the the most wildlife friendly applications and to be more 'green' about housing by sorting out the often dilapidated housing we already have and allocating it sensibly rather than new build.
Why does everything have to revolve around attracting new businesses etc? We need to put the planet first and economics second. And those who don't like it can clear off and live somewhere else.
In Derbyshire at least, let's make sure we keep England's green and pleasant land just that.

Garden grabbing? If you have a garden, for goodness sakes love it, cherish it and nuture it - and you will be rewarded by the the wildlife coming to you.

People caught or convicted of fly tipping should be fined heavily and then given a compulsory 'community sentence' by being made to clear up other fly tippers' rubbish for at least a week. Maybe then they'd learn just how antisocial and unacceptable it is.

It's a sad fact that new housing nearly always requires land which has some benefit to wildlife, no matter how little, to be built on. What the city council needs to do is be more careful in where it allows new building to ensure the least disruption possible to local wildlife.

Fly tipping is all to commonplace these days. How much progress have our city and local councils made in tracking down the offenders and discouraging this sort of antisocial behaviour?

We must preserve our inner-city green spaces. If Derby's children don't get to meet nature on their doorstep, how can they be expected to enjoy it and respect it in the countryside?

There is no doubt in my mind that the future is very bleak indeed if we do not start to do something very quickly in redressing the loss of our green spaces & protect them. Neither wildlife or us can survive without it, we are all three of us inextricably linked & we best not forget it.

There is so much brownfield land in the centre of Derby that has been untouched I don't understand why the council have not used this land and developed it for new council housing instead of fancy flats.

We should look after all green spaces concrete does not combat global warming.

Green spaces are vital for both wildlife and for improving the quality of people's lives. The tranquility and wellbeing that are induced by green spaces seem to be underestimated by the planners. Yes - people do need somewhere to live but the balance is too far in favour of development at the moment. If we build on every last green space and gardens continue to be lost to development then we will end up with a barren and hostile environment that is unpleasant for everyone. This will have a severly detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing as well as harming wildlife.

Surely there can't be that number of wealthy people needing housing? all I see are houses/flats being built for people with money not places for the poorer half of the community.

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last updated: 30/04/2008 at 13:57
created: 10/04/2008

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