Open Spaces Society Fights On!




‘For the last 150 years the Open Spaces Society(1) has fought for the public’s rights against private interests.  Our appetite for the continued fight is unabated.’

So writes the society’s general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, in the summer issue of its magazine, Open Space.

The society is concerned that when David Cameron announced on 8 May that he was forming a government ‘he boasted of his achievements over the last five years and what he would do in the next five.’  Says Kate ‘Not surprisingly there was no mention of the environment.

‘The government has schmoozed with its cronies, the developers.  By the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 it outlawed registration of land as a green where it was threatened with development, and has put green spaces under greater threat in England.  Ministers offered “local green space” in mitigation without explaining how such spaces can be achieved.  In a move to crush free speech, the government legislated to make it more difficult for charities to lobby parliament and to challenge decisions by judicial review.’

Kate continues: ‘The Conservatives give environmental undertakings in their 2015 manifesto.  They promise to “put in place stronger protections for our natural landscapes … launch a programme of pocket parks …ensure that our public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation” and provide “free, comprehensive maps of all open-access green space”.’

She says: ‘That may sound good but it relies on public funding which is shrinking fast.  The continuing swingeing cuts to local authorities’ and national park authorities’ budgets mean that our fragile and vital landscapes, open spaces and public paths will suffer as never before.’

She goes on to condemn the practice of highway authorities in ‘farming out their work to profit-chasing contractors for whom our public paths are small beer’ and of councils who are looking to commercialise open spaces—Clapham, Ealing and Chobham Commons for example.  ‘Public funding of our spaces and paths should be boosted, as an investment in our health and well-being.’

Also in the new issue of Open Space:

  • Championing Chiltern Commons, the achievements of the Chilterns Commons Project.
  • How to save our highways from the threatened closure of the official maps on 1 January 2026.
  • The loss of a village green case in the supreme court, at Newhaven, East Sussex.
  • Novel gift to the society of a common right in south Norfolk.



Notes for editors

1          The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them  This year it celebrates its 150th anniversary (#saveopenspaces150).


Kate Ashbrook

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

25a Bell Street

Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA



The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).

 150 years – and still fighting

Celebrate our anniversary and help


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