View open space audit and strategy process flow chart

The key stages of the open space audit and strategy are:

1.  strategic vision for open space

This involves developing a strategic vision for open space which sets out the overarching open space priorities for the area/region. Strategic partners should be brought together from the outset to shape the vision to ensure that it is shared and relevant and has ‘buy-in’ from all key stakeholders. A strategic vision should inform the open space audit priorities and parameters; set the broad strategic agenda for open space activities and programmes; and support the development of priority policy frameworks for open space.

2. quantitative audit of open space

The quantitative audit should be a comprehensive record of open space across the area. It pulls together the basic data on the amount and type of open space. The strategic vision should also be used to inform the audit brief and parameters. The audit should comply with the PAN65 typology and cover all open space typologies. In most areas the quantitative audit has used a geographical information systems (GIS) based mapping approach based on PAN65 typologies. Consideration also needs to be given to the setting of size thresholds for auditing i.e. the minimum size of settlement to be audited. Keeping the GIS data-set up-to-date to retain its value for future decision-making and strategy development is of vital importance.

3. qualitative assessment of open space

Quality assessment is an essential part of part of the wider assessment and analysis of open space provision across a Local Authority. The open space audit should take into account the quality, community value and use of existing open space and should not merely assess the quantity of provision.

4. open space strategy development

The Open Space Strategy sets out the agreed policy framework and vision for the protection, management and enhancement of open space in the area. It identifies objectives for open space that relate to the priorities of the local authority, its strategic partners and the local community, to promote more inclusive involvement in open space delivery and management. It is important to define and agree clear roles and responsibilities for all relevant departments and partners, generate senior level and political support, establish a partnership structure to oversee implementation and clearly demonstrate the ways in which it will deliver on priority outcomes.

5. open space standards

Setting standards enables authorities to benchmark their open space assets, support decision making and priority setting, as well as providing mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation. Open space standards should cover three elements: quantity, quality and accessibility. They should be realistic in terms of what can be achieved, but still be challenging – recognising the need for improvement. They should they recognise the differences between different types of open space, have been tested against the audit data, the views of communities and strategic priorities and be locally appropriate.

The greenspace scotland report Developing greenspace standards - Framework and pathfinder projects (January 2012) presents the findings of an action research project investigating the development of open space standards in three pathfinder local authority areas – Fife, North Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire – each of which is in the process of developing an Open Space Strategy and/or supporting Supplementary Guidance. 

6. implementation

An action plan, within or additional to, the strategy report should set out the detail of delivery and implementation, informed by the priorities and outcomes set out within the main strategy report. This should include details of timescale and lead delivery partners for individual actions. A formal process, such as an open space steering group involving key strategic partners, should ensure that progress is monitored, recorded and evaluated.

Overarching Principles

Strategic partnership development and community engagement underpin the open space audit and strategy development process. Embedding these across the key stages, will help to ensure that: the resulting audit and strategy has relevance and buy-in strategically and at delivery and local levels; open space strategy objectives address open space deficits and issues of most need; and, action planned and taken is coordinated and effectively targeted.Description: ..