Making use of “spare” land

A summit meeting has been held in Bristol to help businesses decide the future for land they have which may prove of benefit to the community.

The meeting heard how pieces of land which are not suitable for development, or which have to be retained as open space as a requirement of a larger planning consent, can be effectively managed or in some cases be put to community use.

The Bristol office of property agents Bruton Knowles hosted the event, which was held at the offices of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), in Rivergate, Bristol. The HCA provides funding from the Government for regenerating land.

The Land Trust, which provides cost effective and innovative management solutions for open space and green infrastructure, made a presentation to the selection of developers land owners in attendance.

Land Trust Operations Director Matthew Bradbury and Development Manager Jonathan Ducker told the audience how the Trust can help to solve challenges with parcels of land that might be used for the community. But they also help with long term financial management plans to ensure that public open space has a viable and sustainable future.

Paul Matthews, Head of the Bristol office of Bruton Knowles said: “Many businesses have a small piece of land that they cannot use commercially and which can’t be developed. Often it could be used by the local community as a play area or piece of recreation land or simply a quiet place where people can sit.

“Conversely, large and complex development schemes also often have land which is required to be maintained as open space as a condition of the planning consent. This may be for nature conservation purposes or recreational use, but is often a headache for the developer, who lacks the skills and resources necessary to deliver a successful outcome. Ironically, if well managed, such schemes can deliver increased values for the overall development, as well as enhancing the community feel and well being of the eventual residents.

“This event enabled local businesses to meet with the agencies that support sustainable maintained open space. We believe that in the long term it will help provide much-needed facilities for communities and help businesses make a positive use of assets which at the moment are not of any use to them, and can deliver the double benefit of enhanced returns plus an improved environment for both nature and people.”

Ian Mercer, Development Partner at Bruton Knowles in Gloucester, said: “There is a tendency to overlook how significant open space is within the planning process and the community. The Land Trust clearly demonstrated that not giving priority to the management of open space can be a very costly mistake for both developers and planning authorities. Early involvement can help streamline the planning process adding value to a development and saving on costs.

“The message is open space should be treated as a priority and is as important as every other part of the scheme.”