In April 2002, Northamptonshire County Council received Beacon status for 'Improving Urban Green Spaces', the only county council to do so. Our innovative Pocket Parks Scheme provides 'Countryside on the Doorstep' for people in Northamptonshire.
Pocket Parks are open areas of land:
- owned and managed by local people
- providing free, open access for all at all times
- helping to protect and conserve local wildlife, heritage and landscape
Over the past 18 years, the county council has worked in partnership with many organisations and other local authorities to help create 80 Pocket Parks. They vary in size from 0.04ha to 35ha and are found in all types of locations from town centres to quiet villages.
Pocket Parks serve many purposes. They make a valuable contribution to the protection and conservation of Northamptonshire's landscape, heritage and wildlife, as well as giving local people the opportunity to enhance the place in which they live or work. In addition, Pocket Parks can assist in the regeneration of areas as well as help to maintain existing features.
The Pocket Parks scheme is easily replicable, environmentally sound, good economic value and community focussed. Any available space can become a Pocket Park - all that is needed is political will and grass roots support.
Rolling countryside, hedgerows and picturesque villages characterise Northamptonshire. However, much of the countryside is inaccessible to the public as it is either in the ownership of private estates or used as arable farmland. The county has no Outstanding Areas of Natural Beauty, no National Parks and few sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Before the development of the Pocket Parks Scheme, free public access to the countryside was restricted to the rights of way network, country parks, Forestry Commission woodlands and some nature reserves.
The Pocket Park vision is to :
develop easy public access to the countryside, bringing the countryside to the people and providing opportunities for enjoyment and understanding of 'Countryside on the Doorstep'
The county council's aim is to :
create a Pocket Park in the majority of the county's towns and parishes, subject to public consultation and community desire.