Planning chiefs have been told they must take steps to introduce city-wide protection for Dundee’s highly valued urban green spaces.
The City’s Labour Group will push for changes to the local area plan in an effort to make it more difficult for developers to build upon such land.
The revelation this week that none of the city’s thousands of patches of open space currently benefits from safeguards against development shocked many elected members.
It was made by senior officials as a committee considered and rejected plans to build a house on what had always been considered public land in the residential area of Gotterstone Drive.
That issue has now sparked a debate over whether Dundee’s green spaces should be offered special protections.
Neighbouring councils, including Angus, have a presumption against building upon such land unless a strong case can be made.
Labour councillor Lesley Brennan believes a similar system should be implemented in Dundee to offer comfort to residents worried that treasured play areas will disappear.
A review of the local area plan is currently underway and Ms Brennan, who spoke passionately in defence of green spaces at the committee meeting, will be investigating whether the issue can be considered.
Ms Brennan told The Courier: “Angus Council’s local plan details protections that are enjoyed by all green spaces.
“Its Policy SC32 presumes against any development upon green spaces, whether they have sporting, recreational, amenity or nature conservation value, unless a strong case can be made by a developer.
“In Dundee, however, an area of such land needs to be explicitly identified for protection within the local plan or it appears to be fair game.
“By not having the protection afforded by other councils, open space across the city is vulnerable.
“It is clear from the comments made by council planners that they do not deem this land to be of high value, but while it may not have a large financial value, local communities certainly appreciate its intrinsic value.
“This land contributes significantly to the quality of life of people across the city.”
To support her case, Ms Brennan points to a study by the Invergowrie-based James Hutton Institute, which looked at the impact of green space.
Researchers found that accessible green space could have huge physical and mental benefits for young and old alike and that small areas of urban green space could in fact have the biggest impact.
Ms Brennan added: “These spaces add significantly to people’s sense of wellbeing.
“There is a process currently under way to update the local plan and I believe this is an issue that must be looked at.”