'Green wedges'

The practical backbone of the strategy for Lincoln's natural environment and open space is a series of Green Wedges. For the purposes of this Local Plan, a Green Wedge is an area (usually in a variety of uses) which brings continuous, or closely linked open space into the heart of the City's built up area. The range of uses encompassed may be quite wide, including agricultural land, woodland, parks, cemeteries, playing fields, commons, allotments and water features, as well as seemingly unused land. Parts of it may be public open space and parts of it in private ownership, with no (or restricted) rights of public access (e.g. via -. footpaths and bridleways).
Similarly, land within any of the Green Wedges may be of particular open space value for a variety of reasons, such as:
•    Landscape value - sometimes a subjective judgement, turning on the appreciation of natural beauty or the quality of a view, it can also be more objective, identifying elements of landform and other historically or socially important features, to be conserved as part of the City's setting and cultural heritage;
•    Nature Conservation - involving objective judgements about the rarity of flora and fauna, as well as other features such as those of geological interest. These judgements may already be formalised by designations such as Local Nature Reserve (LNR) or Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), or Site of Regional Geological/Geomorphological Interest (RIGs);
•    Recreational Value - can refer to the unmeasurable benefit of just being able to get away from noise and bustle, as well as the more quantifiable role of meeting specified standards of playing field and other open space provision.
Generally Lincoln's urban form (particularly "downhill") lends itself to an open space strategy incorporating Green Wedges. Features which make strong contributions include:
•    the Witham Valley;
•    the Lincoln Edge;    
•    the Lincoln Commons;
•    the Fossdyke;
•    the chains of open spaces along the City's western flank from the West Common south to Swanholme Lakes and to Hospital Plantation.


The strategy of protecting and enhancing continuous wedges of open space within a built-up area offers general benefits:
•    it allows people living in the built-up area easy access to open space. By minimising the distance to and from open space, it produces an effective land use pattern, both better suited to the needs of the sizeable minority of households without access to a car and also more likely to reduce car use generally and encourage the more sustainable alternatives of cycling, walking and public transport.
•    green wedges are, essentially, linear features. Consequently, while they may consist of a range of open space uses, they also offer direct links to the open countryside and between areas of nature conservation value. The existence of such corridors encourages the movement of wildlife, thus making an important contribution to the diversity of flora and fauna in the urban area.
Protecting and enhancing these features will contribute to the better planning of the City, not only because of the general benefits already described above but also because of benefits specific to Lincoln and the surrounding area, such as:
•    safeguarding the line and character of many of the important views into and out of the City, particularly those of and from Lincoln's Cathedral-crowned hilltop and historic core;
•    maintaining and strengthening Lincoln's character as a city entwined with its rural setting;
•    helping to prevent coalescence with neighbouring settlements, (e.g. Canwick, Washingborough, and Skellingthorpe) with the Green Wedges linking with designated areas of "Great Landscape Value" following the Lincoln Edge, both north and south of the City (in North Kesteven and West Lindsey districts), and the Skellingthorpe Protection Zone identified in North Kesteven District's Local Plan (see Diagram 5);
•    providing attractive, accessible corridors as a basis for developing Lincoln's foot, cycle and bridleways' networks.

Uphill Issues

Only in "uphill" Lincoln is the opportunity for a strategy for open space based on Green Wedges hindered by existing development patterns. Here, open space in its various forms tends to occur in isolated pockets, with the built-up area forming an almost "solid wall", between Burton and Wragby Roads, severed from the open countryside beyond. Areas of landscape value or nature conservation interest are relatively scarce when compared to "downhill" Lincoln. Consequently, the Local Plan has taken up opportunities to extend open space designations in "uphill" Lincoln, notably around the northern and western fringes of Greetwell Quarry. It also contains proposals to strengthen footpath and cycleway links between areas of open space.

Existing Uses Within Green Wedges
There are various "non open-space" uses and activities within Lincoln's Green Wedges, ranging from residential, leisure and commercial uses to the Sewage Treatment Works. This Plan's objective is to ensure that these uses do not develop in a way which harms the character of the Green Wedge within which they are situated. Consequently, proposals to develop these uses further will normally only be permitted where they are contained within the present curtilage and meet the terms of other relevant Plan policies. Exceptionally (i.e. where no practical alternative exists), essential development required by a public or private utility will be permitted beyond a present curtilage, provided other concerns are satisfied.