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10 / LEISURE & RECREATION

LEISURE & RECREATION POLICIES

Policy LR1 New sports and leisure facilities

Policy LR2 Adverse effects of development

Policy LR3 Golf

Policy LR4 Rowing course

Policy LR5 Radwell Lakes

Policy LR6 Arts venue

Policy LR7 Use of River Great Ouse

Policy LR8 Riverside Close amenity space

Policy LR9 Moorings

Policy LR10 Access to countryside

Policy LR11 Noise generation

Policy LR12 Santa Pod Raceway

Policy LR13 Loss of leisure facilities

Policy LR14 Playing fields and allotments

Policy LR15 Provision of outdoor playing space for sport

Policy LR16 Provision of children’s play space

Policy LR17 Provision of general amenity open space

Policy LR18 Recreation / community uses

Policy LR19 Provision of new community facilities

INTRODUCTION

10.1 Recreation and leisure is one of the Borough’s greatest strengths in terms of facilities, and opportunities for participation across a wide spectrum of sporting and cultural activities. In recent years the Council has invested substantial sums resulting in Bedford now being recognised as a regional centre of excellence.

10.2 The Borough Council will continue to improve and expand the provision and promotion of leisure opportunities and has adopted strategies for sports, recreation and art. These strategies were prepared following a survey of participation in leisure activities and a survey of facilities in the Borough and they aim to promote a greater awareness of existing opportunities and enable all sections of the community to take part in the leisure activities of their choice.

10.3 The role of the local plan is to ensure that where new facilities are required appropriate sites can be brought forward while at the same time protecting existing facilities and open spaces, especially where there are competing claims for land uses which may lead to the loss of land with recreational value or potential. Additionally the local plan also sets standards for the provision of open space in association with new development.

KEY ISSUES

10.4 This chapter addresses the following key issues:

  1. The need to make provision for leisure facilities in the context of continually evolving needs for a range of leisure activities.

  2. The safeguarding of existing facilities and open space.

  3. The need to provide open space and community facilities in association with new development.

FORMAL LEISURE PROVISION

10.5 Recent years have seen a broadening of formal leisure provision in the Borough, notably through the development of Aspects Leisure Centre, the Oasis Leisure Pool and Bedford Athletics Stadium which together form a significant area of leisure development in the Barkers Lane area alongside Priory Country Park. Bedford Town Football Club has also been re-established on a site at Meadow Lane. These facilities add to the golf, swimming, canoe, hockey, marina and country park facilities already available.

10.6 Most facilities serve Borough needs but the rugby and football clubs, the athletics stadium and Santa Pod Race Track attract spectators and participants from further afield. The river also provides the setting for annual rowing regattas and the Bedford River Festival.

10.7 The agenda for future provision will be set in the context of emerging requirements and market trends. In its strategy 'Sport in the East' published in 1994, the Eastern Council for Sport and Recreation (now Sport England) highlight facility deficiencies in the region. The Borough Council is seen as having priority needs for a permanent gymnastics centre, County volleyball centre, County netball centre and improvements to Cardington canoe course.

10.8 The further success of local clubs, for example the Bedford Town FC, and Bedford RUFC may also generate a requirement for enhanced provision of sports grounds and this will need to be assessed when appropriate.

10.9 In the area of specialised provision the Borough Leisure strategy highlights the fact that the Borough has found it difficult to cater for those seeking excellence and requiring indoor facilities in both sports and the arts. In this respect the Council supports De Montfort University in maintaining its reputation as a centre of excellence in sports science and physical education and will continue to be involved in discussions aimed at enhancing the University's current facilities. In addition there is a wealth of facilities available in schools, colleges, churches and village halls which have potential for community use but remain largely untapped.

10.10 The diverse and multi-cultural community of Bedford could create demand for a range of facilities. Generally speaking, proposals which meet identified needs or demand for specialised or community facilities will be encouraged subject to planning policy. However, the location of the facilities is also of key importance. Any new facilities should relate well to existing provision and to the community they will serve and incorporate measures to secure safety and crime reduction wherever possible (see Policy BE45). Facility development has largely taken place in the urban area and this will most often be the best location for facilities which serve the whole Borough.

10.11 However, recreation and leisure uses cover a wide variety of types of development with different locational requirements. This means that some recreation and leisure facilities are best suited to town centre locations, while it will be more appropriate for others to be located elsewhere. Not withstanding this, the principles of sustainability in terms of re-using derelict sites and property; concentrating development in urban areas; locating major trip generating activity at transport nodes; ensuring access by public transport and so on are still fundamental, along with normal development control criteria.

10.12 For this reason, depending on the nature of development proposed, the first preference should be for town centre locations, where appropriate sites or buildings for conversion are available, followed by edge of centre sites, local centres and finally (where accessible by public transport) out of centre sites. The diverse nature of activities covered by leisure and recreation does, however require a degree of flexibility in approach, but the normal principles of sustainable development will be applied, along with other policy considerations.

10.13 In some cases, planning conditions or legal agreements may be used to secure necessary and appropriate developer contributions at the planning application stage. In the case of major trip generating uses which cannot be accommodated in, or on the edge of existing centres, this may include measures to improve public transport accessibility.

POLICY LR1
Planning permission will be granted for new sports/leisure facilities where:
i) the facility meets a deficiency in existing provision for specialist or community need;
ii) the proposed site is well related to existing settlements and accords with the locational principles of sustainable development;
iii) provision is made for access for users travelling by foot, cycle and public transport;
iv) there is no adverse effect on the highway network or amenity of local residents;
v) the facility is of a high design standard and the layout incorporates adequate car parking and landscaping and includes measures to create a safe leisure environment; and
vi) appropriate provision is made to secure access by all.

LEISURE AND THE EVENING ECONOMY

10.14 The Borough Council are keen to secure a range of activities in the town centre, in order to secure diversity and vitality. This has been discussed in the Town Centre chapter and includes activities that operate outside normal working hours, such as appropriate leisure activities (see para 8.41 – 8.43). In some cases, these activities can create problems such as noise, litter and parking problems. The Borough Council has introduced CCTV to the town centre and opportunities for the further extension of this will be considered in order to improve security and act as a deterrent to un-neighbourly behaviour (see Policy TC10). In order to ensure that the benefits of encouraging a range of activities are not reduced by potential problems, the Borough Council will ensure that a range of factors are considered before granting planning permission.

POLICY LR2
Where a proposal is likely to generate disturbance and/or activity out of normal working hours, planning permission will only be granted where there is no adverse impact on:
i) the amenity of nearby residents and surrounding users;
ii) conservation areas and buildings of historical/architectural interest; and,
iii) traffic flows and parking.
Consideration will be given to the cumulative impact of the proposal in relation to other facilities and proposals in the vicinity. Where planning permission is granted, the Borough Council will consider the use of conditions to minimise or avoid the adverse effects of development.

GOLF

10.15 Golf is a popular leisure activity in the Borough. There are established Clubs at Mowsbury Park, Biddenham and Clapham, and clubs in the rural area at Colmworth, Pavenham and Wyboston. Planning permission has also been granted for additional courses in the Borough. The allocation of land to the north of Bromham Road, Biddenham has necessitated the cessation of operations at the Bedfordshire Golf Club, Biddenham though this club has now relocated to a new golf course at Brookmead Farm, Stagsden.

10.16 Golf courses constitute significant areas of development and can have an important influence on the character of fringe and countryside areas.

10.17 Sport England has published standards for the provision of golf courses in the region. The guideline for Championship Courses has been met as has the former ECSR's minimum requirement for golf course provision. Further provision is not therefore considered to be a priority. The Borough and Sport England have encouraged the provision of a balance of pay and play and private members’ courses and the need for pay and play facilities has also been met. However there is still a need for specialist facilities particularly for new participants in golf.

10.18 The development of a new golf course can raise important questions of public access and impact on the countryside.

10.19 The appropriateness of a particular type of golf development depends on the nature of the facility and the character of the proposed site. Golf development may make a positive contribution to the landscape where it is used to help restore a degraded area; such opportunities may arise in the Marston Vale. Elsewhere in areas where the landscape is of high visual quality for example in the Area of Great Landscape Value and areas with recognised wildlife significance, golf development should only take place where it is sensitively integrated into the landscape.

10.20 A necessary part of any golf development is its clubhouse and ancillary development such as a professionals shop and a green keepers store. It may also be appropriate to provide a limited amount of other sports facilities to be used by golfers but they should only be provided on a small scale and be located adjacent to the other facilities. All facilities should be designed on a domestic scale and be capable of contributing positively to the landscape. Where there are existing buildings on the site, opportunities for their re-use to house course facilities should be taken in preference to new build.

10.21 Golf course proposals should not include development which does not relate directly to the running of the golf facility. This includes restaurant facilities over and above those required by players and staff, residential accommodation, major sports facilities for squash or other sports, hotel and conference facilities and housing. Additional built development unrelated to golf use would consolidate built development in the open countryside and should be resisted to protect the countryside for its own sake.

POLICY LR3
Where there is a justified need (in accordance with guidelines prepared by the former ECSR and to be updated by Sport England) for further golf provision permission will be granted where:
i) the proposal is well related to existing settlement areas and has good access to the strategic road network;
ii) rights of way through the course are maintained and public access to the countryside improved;
iii) development of the site has no adverse impact on the character of the Area of Great Landscape Value and the countryside in general and would not lead to the loss of features of visual, natural, archaeological or historical importance;
iv) the siting and design of the club house is appropriate in character and scale for its function and location and includes provision of adequate car parking;
v) the proposal does not include additional sport and leisure facilities over and above that reasonably required by golf users; and,
vi) the proposal does not include residential accommodation for players or non players.

10.22 In order that the full impact of a proposal can be assessed all applications must be submitted in full and contain details of the site and of the impact of development.

10.23 Site details should include such information as geology and soil type (including agricultural grade); the location and details of existing trees, woodland, hedges and so on; the location of all natural and man-made features such as ponds and ditches; areas of conservation/ wildlife interest and archaeological/earth science features. In addition current land uses and land contours should be shown. A 1:1250 scale map should be used.

10.24 The assessment of the environmental impact of the proposal should include consideration of a range of factors concerning landscape quality; appropriate habitat survey and identification of opportunities for improvement; preliminary archaeological evaluation; traffic survey; impact on the existing Rights of Way network and possible improvements; and where appropriate, opportunities for increased planting and access opportunities associated with the Forest of Marston Vale.

WATERSPORTS

10.25 The Borough has provision for watersports at Priory Country Park, Priory Marina and the Wyboston Lakes Complex and at a number of locations in the Marston Vale. The watersports which take place include sailing, angling, powered boating, canoeing, windsurfing, rowing and water skiing.

10.26 In the ECSR report on the supply and demand for watersports on enclosed water bodies within the Eastern Region, the main additional need identified is for a 1000m rowing course on enclosed water. The report suggests a location linked to the restoration of the proposed workings at Willington and it has been shown that a 2000 metre course could be physically accommodated there, subject to satisfactory resolution of other issues. The principle of locating a course in the Marston Vale or elsewhere in an appropriate location up to 2000m is generally supported subject to resolution of related issues. Such a proposal may provide new opportunities for related improvement or enhancement schemes. At the time of publication no single proposal has been agreed.

POLICY LR4
The Borough Council will support the development of a rowing course, up to 2000 metres in the Marston Vale or on land West of Willington, or elsewhere, provided that:
i) the course is located so as to be capable of serving the needs of existing users;
ii) there would be no adverse impact on residential amenity;
iii) there would be no adverse impact on the character of the proposed site in terms of landscape and visual qualities; wildlife or habitat assets; or historic or archaeological value;
iv) the proposal includes appropriate measures to ensure no adverse impact on related water bodies, the floodplain;
v) satisfactory access could be achieved from the main highway network; and
vi) where a proposal will lead to the loss of grades 1,2 or 3a agricultural land, the applicant can demonstrate an overriding need for the use and that no alternative site is available.
The development of non-essential ancillary built facilities will not be permitted. Detailed proposals will also be assessed against the following criteria:
– measures to enhance landscape features;
– measures for the creation and enhancement of habitats;
– opportunities for increased access.

10.27 North West of Bedford lies an area known as Radwell Lakes. The area comprises mainly agricultural land and has been the subject of extensive mineral working in the past. It lies in the Area of Great Landscape Value and within the River Protection Area and includes areas of natural and wildlife value.

10.28 Angling now takes place but the area has some potential for creating a more diverse recreational resource subject to appropriate policy considerations. Any proposal must respect the location of the site in the river valley and safeguard and enhance the landscape, while protecting assets such as the wildlife and conservation interests, or those relating to historical/archaeological features. Any development should therefore act as a positive force for both environmental protection and enhancement while being suitable for the context and setting in which it occurs.

10.29 In order to ensure that development in this area is low key, responds sensitively to the local environment and to ensure that visitor management problems are minimised, conditions or obligations may be applied to any such proposal. These may cover aspects such as scale, access, design, landscaping, hours of operation and other requirements as appropriate. Part of this process will include the preparation of a management plan. This should be prepared in partnership with the Borough Council and is to be agreed at planning application stage.

POLICY LR5
The Borough Council will support the development of sport and recreation activity at the Radwell Lakes area (shown on the Proposals Map) provided that:
i) there is no adverse impact on the River Protection Area or Area of Great Landscape Value;
ii) there is no adverse impact on nature conservation/wildlife factors or sites of historic or archaeological value;
iii) traffic generation can be accommodated within the existing highway infrastructure or that acceptable improvement works can be agreed;
iv) the proposal will not have an adverse impact on local amenity;
v) the proposal is in accordance with a management plan to be agreed with the Borough Council.
The development of non-essential built facilities will not be permitted. Detailed proposals will also be assessed against the following criteria:
– measures to protect/enhance landscape features;
– opportunities for increasing access through the creation of a network of footpaths, bridleways and cycleways;
– potential impact on water resource quality;
– restricting hours of operation.

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

10.30 The town benefits from a range of facilities for art and cultural activity, including the Corn Exchange, the Bowen West Theatre and the Civic Theatre. These venues have traditionally provided for local amateur and touring professional drama companies and entertainers, including the Kadam South Asian Dance Company who are based in Bedford. In addition the town boasts the Bedford Museum, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, BCA Gallery and John Bunyan Museum. The Corn Exchange has been refurbished and the Philharmonia Orchestra has taken up residency. In addition, a wide range of venues are available for music, dance and drama outside the Borough.

10.31 The Borough Council is, however, keen to improve the overall provision of facilities for art and cultural activity and is examining the feasibility of providing a performance venue for arts and entertainment events. Such a venue would provide an opportunity to bring together many of the Borough’s multi-cultural activities.

POLICY LR6
Proposals for development for the performing arts, or cultural activity, including the provision of a multi-use performing arts venue in the town centre will be encouraged, where the proposal would cause no harm to interests of acknowledged importance.

INFORMAL RECREATION

RIVER GREAT OUSE

10.32 The river is a major asset for the Borough and its landscaped banks and floodplain provide a green wedge through the urban area The river is a visual, historic, natural, amenity and recreational asset for the Borough and serves many different users. Any demand for recreational use for the river must therefore be in balance with the need to protect other assets and meet the needs of other users.

10.33 The Borough Council has sought to promote recreational activities appropriate to each section of the river. This means concentrating intensive recreation in the urban area and elsewhere placing emphasis on more passive uses. The Borough has supported the development of Priory Marina. Moorings have been provided on the lower river whilst use of the upper river is discouraged to give preference to other uses notably rowing.

10.34 Access is the key to providing for informal recreation and many of the proposals in the river plan for enabling better access to the river have been achieved. It has been the objective of the Council to establish a Riverside Walk along both banks of the River through the urban area. This has largely been achieved with the exception of the stretch between County Bridge and Queen's Bridge on the south side of the River. The allocation of two sites for housing in the vicinity – Britannia Iron Works and Austin Canons offers the opportunity to complete this link. The Borough Council will expect the development of these sites to contribute to the achievement of this objective (see Policies H2 and H3).

10.35 Beyond the urban area, the Borough Council will seek to create long distance footpaths along the river. Where opportunities arise means of access will be explored (see also Policies T13 and T14).

POLICY LR7
The Borough Council will continue to support proposals which enhance the recreational use of the river where:
i) there would be no adverse impact on other river assets;
ii) the proposal would lead to increased access along the river, particularly where this would contribute to the creation of a long-distance riverside route in the Borough;
iii) there would be no conflict with other policies in this plan.

10.36 In addition the Borough will seek improvement of land lying between Riverside Close and the railway line as public open space for the eastern end of Kempston. The site was formally used as allotment gardens but has been unused for some years. Appropriate fencing would be required adjacent to the railway line and the existing drainage channel, but the site would be suitable for amenity space. In view of the limited parking facilities in the area, car parking spaces would be provided within the site with access from Riverside Close. This will then link with proposals at Biddenham Loop.

POLICY LR8
The Borough Council will lay out approximately 2.2ha of land bounded by the river, Riverside Close and the railway line as amenity space. A small car park will be provided within the site.

MOORINGS

10.37 The restoration of navigation to Bedford in 1978, combined with the opening of Priory Marina has made the river more attractive to pleasure boating. To minimise conflict, the largest number of moorings have been located on the Lower River, with those on the Upper River restricted to essential short term facilities. The Upper River should be protected from such development as the area is sensitive and should only be used for more passive forms of activity.

10.38 Consideration will be given to the potential for creating a limited number of short stay moorings along the river between the Town Centre and Kempston. Such facilities should not create an adverse impact on the river environment and should be of a low key nature with no ancillary provision.

POLICY LR9
The development of additional permanent moorings on the Upper River will not be allowed. The development of up to 6 short stay moorings is acceptable in principle at St. Mary’s Island, and consideration will be given to the creation of a limited number of short-stay moorings along the river between the Town Centre and Kempston Mill. In both cases:
i) the proposed development should be of a limited and appropriate scale;
ii) there should be no adverse impact on river flow, river character and landscape; and,
iii) the proposal should not include extra facilities.

ACCESS TO THE COUNTRYSIDE

10.39 The Borough has a varied countryside offering a range of opportunities for informal recreation including activities such as walking, cycling, riding and picnicking. It is estimated that 80% of the population visits the countryside at least once a year for informal recreation. The key to the provision of such opportunities is access. The rights of way network is vital in this respect and where development proposals affect the network the Borough will seek to ensure that it is safeguarded.

10.40 Further opportunities may arise for leisure and recreation through the creation of the Forest of Marston Vale (see para 3.51 etc and Policy NE21).

10.41 In addition, in appropriate locations, the Borough Council are keen to secure additional river crossings as part of improvements to the network of footpaths and cycleways. Such crossings include those at Kempston Church End (in association with the new distributor road), Honeyhills/ Hillgrounds, adj. Britannia Ironworks, Batts Ford and in the vicinity of Fenlake Meadows/Priory Park.

POLICY LR10
In determining planning applications the Borough Council will:
i) safeguard existing footpath/bridleway links and ensure they are successfully incorporated into new development or diverted as appropriate;
ii) seek opportunities to enhance existing footpath, bridleway and cycle networks in conjunction with new development in particular from the urban area into the countryside and where appropriate, the Forest of Marston Vale;
iii) seek opportunities where appropriate for additional river crossings as part of the overall improvements to the network; and,
iv) wherever possible, ensure that new footpaths/bridleways are suitable for disabled people.

LEISURE AND RECREATION IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

10.42 A number of leisure activities such as clay pigeon shooting, motor sports, model aircraft flying and war games can cause unacceptable disturbance in the countryside. This disturbance can take the form of noise, dust creation, erosion, damage to habitats as well as other conflicts. Sensitive areas, for example ancient woodlands and other designated wildlife habitats, should be protected from such activities. Additionally, activities likely to cause a disturbance should be located away from housing areas. The provision of suitable sites may divert damaging uses away from inappropriate locations.

10.43 Criteria for the selection of sites for regular use must, however, still include consideration of the impacts both on site and for adjacent areas. It may therefore be a requirement that the developer carries out a assessment of likely impact. Where planning permission is granted, the Borough Council may use conditions to minimise conflict.

POLICY LR11
The likelihood of leisure and recreation development generating noise; its effect on sensitive locations; and uses in the locality will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Proposals will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where the applicant can demonstrate that the development will cause no harm to interests of acknowledged importance. Where proposed development in the open countryside appears likely to generate noise, planning applications will be determined taking into account the effect on sensitive locations and uses. Such proposals will only be permitted where the applicant can demonstrate that the development would cause no material harm to interests of acknowledged importance.

SANTA POD RACEWAY

10.44 This sporting facility which is of national significance is within an Area of Great Landscape Value and on occasions causes considerable disturbance to adjoining communities by virtue of noise and traffic generation. The venue has recently come under new ownership and proposals for its development and improvement will no doubt come forward during the plan period. The Borough Council will encourage and support the upgrading of this facility in balance with the amenity of local communities and the capacity of the local highway network.

POLICY LR12
Any proposals for development at Santa Pod Raceway will be permitted provided that:
i) there will be no adverse impact on the Area of Great Landscape Value;
ii) the applicant can demonstrate that the transmission of noise generated by permitted activities on the site would be reduced to the maximum practicable extent, through physical works such as landscaping as well as other organisational means;
iii) the applicant can demonstrate that there will be no adverse impact on the water environment or air quality;
iv) the applicant can demonstrate that there will be no adverse impact on the local transportation network; and
v) the applicant can demonstrate that the cumulative impact of the development proposed, together with other commitments, do not adversely impact on Santa Pod Raceway or the local area.
The Borough Council expects applicants to produce the necessary technical data in support of their application. This should be presented in a manner appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposal.

LOSS OF LEISURE AND RECREATION FACILITIES

10.45 Safeguarding existing facilities is important so as to ensure that recreational land and facilities are not lost in the face of pressures from other uses. Furthermore, it is important that facilities which serve a particular community and locality are maintained, preserving the opportunity to use local facilities.

10.46 Playing fields, especially those in the urban area make a valuable contribution not only in providing recreational facilities but also by providing green space with important amenity value in otherwise built up areas. Playing fields, along with other green spaces in the urban area should be protected for their own sake and have therefore been identified on the Proposals Map as urban open spaces to be protected in accordance with Policy NE17.

10.46a Sport England is a statutory consultee on proposals for developments which affect playing fields and has produced a policy statement ‘A Sporting Future for the Playing Fields of England’ (1997). The Borough Council supports Sport England’s approach which opposes the granting of planning permission for development leading to the loss of all or part of a playing field except under certain identified circumstances.

10.47 Allotments also have a dual function being of recreational and amenity value and are included on the Proposals Map as urban open spaces.

POLICY LR13
Permission will not be granted for development which results in the loss of an existing open space facility unless it can be reprovided on a comparable site in the locality and where replacement provision is appropriate in terms of size, form, layout, design and accessibility.
POLICY LR14
The re-development of playing fields and allotments for other purposes will not be permitted unless:
i) the development forms part of a positive local plan allocation;
ii) facilities can best be retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site;
iii) there is no loss of community benefit;
iv) there is an identified surplus of the use in the area, taking into account both amenity and recreation factors; and,
v) there is no adverse impact on the relationship with other open space provision, including wildlife corridors, across the urban area.

NEW OPEN SPACE

10.48 Open space is a general term which can be used to cover many types of uses such as playing fields, children's play areas, parks and woodlands as well as other types of informal open space provision for outdoor sport and children's play in new development.

10.49 The National Playing Fields Association has set standards for two of the components which make up the overall provision of open space; outdoor sport and children's playing space. The standard, known as the six acre standard recommends that as a minimum, six acres of playing space be provided per 1000 population.

10.50 The standard is divided into parts as follows:

Outdoor Sport:

1.6 – 1.8 hectares (4 – 4.5 acres) for pitches, greens, courts and athletics tracks. Included within the broad standard is a specific allocation of 1.2 hectares (3.0 acres) per 1000 population for pitch sports.

Children's Playing:

0.6 – 0.8 hectares (1.5 – 2 acres) for outdoor equipped space: playgrounds for children of whatever age, adventure playgrounds and casual informal playing space.

10.51 The NPFA defines outdoor playing space as: ‘space which is available for sport, active recreation or children's play, which is of suitable size and nature for its intended purpose, and safely accessible and available to the general public’. The standard does not include educational facilities which are not available for dual use, facilities which are not available for public use, golf facilities or water used for recreation.

10.52 In planning for the future provision of open space the Borough Council intends to adopt the NPFA standard for all new housing development for outdoor sport and children's playing space and set local standards for the provision of amenity space.

10.53 With a few minor exceptions, for example, those that do not create demand for such provision, (such as nursing homes), this will ensure that all new housing development makes appropriate provision for outdoor sport and play space based on local standards.

OUTDOOR SPORT

10.54 The standards contained in this plan are based on the NPFA standards. The Council is aware however, of the need to look specifically at the nature of provision in the Borough particularly the urban area where there may be deficiencies of facilities both in relation to the available facilities and their distribution. The standards will be applied to all residential developments which may create a demand for the specified open space. Negotiations through the development control process will therefore be used to secure provision of playing pitches and essential associated facilities such as changing rooms as well as to secure future management and maintenance in accordance with the policy.

POLICY LR15
The Borough Council will require new housing development to provide outdoor playing space for sport where the development contains 100 units or more of housing of a type likely to create a demand for outdoor sporting facilities. Provision should ideally be made within or adjacent to the site.
Where required, outdoor playing space for sport will be provided on the basis of 0.4-0.45ha (1-1.25acres) per 100 dwellings.
Where necessary and appropriate, the Borough Council will seek the use of planning obligations:
i) to facilitate the upgrading of outdoor playing space for sport in the locality where fewer than 100 dwellings are proposed or to make a pro rata contribution to future new facilities
ii) to secure a contribution towards the cost of future management and maintenance.

CHILDREN'S PLAY

10.55 In the provision of children's play space, it is important to ensure that a range of play areas appropriate for different age groups is provided. Younger children need facilities close to home whilst older children are likely to require more extensive facilities which will be situated on a larger site further from the home.

10.56 To ensure that this range of facilities is provided the NPFA have produced recommendations for three types of play space. A full description is given in the NPFA's document ‘The Six Acre Standard: Minimum Standards for Outdoor Playing Space’ (1992). The main features are summarised below:

10.57 Local Area for Play (LAP) to serve very young children:

– Located within 1 minute's walking time of home (60 metres straight line distance),

– Suitable for 4-6 year olds,

– Appropriate for low key games,

– Has an activity zone of 100m2 and a 5 metre buffer zone.

10.58 Local Equipped Area for Play (LEAP) to provide an unsupervised play area equipped for children of early school age:

– Within 5 minutes walking time of home,

– Contains about five types of play equipment and seating for adults,

– Activity zone of 400m2 and a buffer zone of 20 metres to limit disturbance.

10.59 Neighbourhood Equipped Areas for Play (NEAP) designed to service a substantial residential area and equipped for older children:

– Within 15 minutes walking time of home,

– Variety of equipment including a kick-about area,

– 1000m2 activity area with 30 metre buffer.

10.60 The need to include each of these facilities will depend on the size of the development and the nature of the development itself. Development in excess of 15 dwellings will generally require the provision of LAP's, although it will be necessary to consider the nature and configuration of the site. In some smaller developments, however, there may opportunities through careful design, to integrate small areas suitable for low key play into schemes using a variety of measures. These may include traffic calming where road space is used (in which case space is given back to pedestrians); the appropriate use of materials and suitable landscaping. The advantages of such an approach could include savings on the amount of land used and the play area being overlooked by dwellings. The ability of a scheme to incorporate such measures will be a material consideration.

10.61 Developments in excess of 50 units will require LEAPs. NEAPs should form a part of comprehensive development schemes. The standard assumes a maximum of 13 children per acre. There will be instances where the standard may need to be adjusted to take account of higher numbers of children per acre. Elsewhere, in cases where the amount of proposed development falls below these parameters, the Borough Council will seek to negotiate appropriate provision in accordance with the standards set out in this plan, taking into account a range of factors such as existing provision in the vicinity.

10.62 Wherever possible play facilities should be provided on site. Where, exceptionally, on site provision is not feasible, the Council will consider the use of planning obligations to secure provision on an adjacent site or alternatively to secure the improvement of existing nearby play areas. Such improvements may include enlarging the area available for play and/or extending the range of equipment available. Provision should also be made for future management and maintenance. All contributions sought will reflect current national advice on planning obligations which, at the time of adoption of this plan, look favourably on commuted maintenance sums only where the facility provided is principally of benefit to the development itself, rather than to the wider public.

10.62a A borough wide audit will establish the existing coverage of LAPs, LEAPs and NEAPs and will inform a programme of new provision. Where fewer than 15 or 50 dwellings are proposed (for LAPs and LEAPs respectively), or where the proposal does not generate the need for a NEAP (because of the size of the proposal) the Borough Council will, where necessary and appropriate, seek the use of planning obligations to secure a pro-rata contribution to the provision of these facilities.

10.62b It is not the Council’s intention that the application of this policy should require new developers to make up for any existing deficiencies of pitch (Policy LR15)/play (Policy LR16) space. Any development that generates a measurable demand for space should make a contribution fairly related to its size, but only if the space provided or augmented would be easily accessible from the new development.

POLICY LR16
The Borough Council will require new housing development to provide children's playing space where the housing is of a type likely to create a demand for such facilities. Overall the following provision will be expected in line with NPFA standards:
Outdoor equipped space – 0.05 – 0.075 ha per 100 dwellings Informal play space – 0.1 – 0.125 ha per 100 dwellings This will comprise:
i) LAPs (local areas for play). These will be required on sites where 15 dwellings or more are proposed. Generally speaking one LAP will be required per 15 dwellings;
ii) LEAPs (local equipped areas for play). In addition LEAPs will be required where 50 dwellings or more are proposed; one LEAP will be required per 50 dwellings;
iii) NEAPs (neighbourhood equipped areas for play). NEAPs will form part of comprehensive development schemes and the requirement will normally be identified in development briefs.
The precise number of LAPs, LEAPs and NEAPs will be determined not only by the number of dwellings but also by walking time and distances to the facilities as described in the supporting text. Where necessary and appropriate, the Borough Council will seek the use of planning obligations:
i) to facilitate the improvement of existing near-by facilities or to make a pro-rata contribution towards the provision of identified new facilities (where fewer than 15 or 50 dwellings are proposed for LAPs and LEAPs respectively);
ii) to facilitate the improvement of existing nearby facilities or to make a pro-rata contribution towards the provision of identified new NEAPs where a proposal is too small to require the provision of a NEAP; and
iii) to secure a contribution towards the cost of future management and maintenance.

AMENITY OPEN SPACE

10.63 Where the provision of a separate area of public amenity space on a site is impractical, it may be acceptable for the pro-rata public amenity space requirement to be added to that for private open space. Normally this additional private open space should be planned to the front of properties where its contribution to the quality of the residential environment as a whole can be maximised. This approach may be particularly appropriate where fewer than 15 units are proposed and thus the pro-rata requirement for a single amenity area would be of limited value because of its size.

POLICY LR17
The Borough Council will require all residential developments of 15 units or more to provide a separate area of at least 0.1 ha (0.25 acres) pro rata of general amenity open space for every 50 dwellings. A contribution towards the cost of future management and maintenance will be a requirement where necessary and appropriate. Where it is impractical for a separate public amenity area to be provided on site, consideration will be given to allowing the pro-rata requirement for public amenity space to be added to the private open space requirement and provided to the front of buildings. Proposals for fewer than 15 units will normally be expected to contribute to general amenity in this manner.

COMMUNITY FACILITIES

10.64 The diverse nature of the Borough’s community creates a demand for a range of community facilities. The level of provision varies but the Borough Council considers that residents should enjoy as many opportunities as possible for access to appropriate community or recreation facilities. Consequently, the loss of existing facilities must be avoided.

POLICY LR18
Development which would result in the loss of a recreational or community use will only be permitted if
i) that use or facility is to be replaced by an equivalent or better standard facility of equal convenience to existing users, or
ii) no clear need or deficiency can be identified, to justify such a replacement.

10.65 The Borough has a network of community facilities within its area. These act as meeting places (including places of worship) for a range of local groups and provide accommodation for social and sporting activities. Where extensive new development takes place there will be a need for new facilities. However, such new facilities need not always be purpose built where existing buildings are available or suitable for adaptation or dual use. If a community hall or village hall is already in the vicinity of new development then it may be more appropriate to seek the upgrading of the hall to enable better use to be made of the facility.

10.66 Opportunities may also exist for other premises such as school buildings or existing village halls to be used for other community purposes. In rural areas, such an approach may help to reduce the need to travel by enabling provision to be locally made, but adaptation and dual use is equally applicable in towns where sites for new facilities will often be difficult to find in relation to established communities.

10.67 Where conversion or adaptation takes place it will be necessary to guard against loss of amenity through increased traffic and parking requirements and noise. Where possible, therefore, consideration should be given to the use of the existing school and community buildings in the area in preference to conversion of dwellings.

POLICY LR19
Any need which is directly created for the provision of a new community hall or facility, the upgrading of existing community facilities or the adaptation of suitable premises will be a material planning consideration in the determination of planning applications for new housing development. The level of provision required and the type of provision needed will depend on:
i) the extent and type of new housing development;
ii) the availability of buildings in the vicinity which would be suitable for conversion or adaptation to community use;
iii) the usage of existing community facilities in the vicinity;
iv) the potential for extension to existing facilities and the need for upgrading.
Applications for such facilities will be permitted where:
i) the proposal has satisfactory access to the main road network and public transport;
ii) adequate off street parking can be provided;
iii) there is no adverse impact on residential amenity.

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