SPACES ARE PLACES
17. Open space designers, planners and managers should be aware of the potential to improve the quality of our environment and create long-lasting, beautiful places of which we can be proud. To achieve this, green and civic spaces must be fit for purpose and have a relationship with the surrounding buildings and uses, and the movements through them. Spaces should be designed for ease of access, particularly for groups such as the elderly, parents with pushchairs and disabled people. The proper provision, management and maintenance of open space are key aspects of good design.
Local authorities may wish to consider the potential to create Home Zones within their areas, under the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001. Home Zones can help give street space in residential areas back to pedestrians and prevent the movement and parking of vehicles from dominating the environment. Sensitive design and the use of high quality materials and landscaping can be used to improve the environment and create attractive places for children to play and people to meet. Home Zones may link into the open space network, providing a safe link for pedestrians and cyclists between parks and recreational spaces and community facilities such as schools and shops.
18. Designing Places highlights that the most successful places have certain qualities in common: identity; safe and pleasant; ease of movement; a sense of welcome; adaptability; and good use of resources. Open space should therefore be:
- well-located - linking into the open space network, connecting into well-used routes and overlooked by buildings, helping to foster a feeling of safety and discourage anti-social behaviour as well as being easily accessible to all.
- well-designed - designed to reduce vandalism and, where appropriate, maintenance, with the use of high quality durable materials and incorporating elements of interest, for example through public art.
- well-managed - covered by a management and maintenance regime attuned to the type of space, durability, wildlife habitats present, level of usage and local interests.
- adaptable - be capable of serving a number of functions and adapting to different uses while promoting a range of benefits such as biodiversity, flood control or environmental education.
19. Spaces that exhibit these characteristics are likely to be of high quality, safe and therefore well used. Spaces that do not are likely to appear neglected, feel unsafe and contribute little to the quality of the surrounding environment. The role of landscape architects and urban designers in creating spaces that achieve these qualities should not be underestimated. These characteristics should not always be sought, indeed may be inappropriate, in many natural or semi-natural greenspaces.