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Chapter 12

Recreation

INTRODUCTION

12.1 During the period covered by the Plan it is likely that increasing numbers of people will be seeking to pursue recreation activities. The Plan therefore seeks to ensure that existing facilities are safeguarded against other forms of development and that additional provision can be accommodated in appropriate locations.

RECREATION AND LEISURE PURSUITS IN MOLE VALLEY

The Built-up Areas

12.2 Leatherhead and the surrounding areas of Fetcham, Bookham and Ashtead are well served with indoor sports facilities principally at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre where there are facilities for swimming, diving, squash, badminton, indoor bowls and rollerskating. There are also fitness suites. In Dorking, the Swimming Centre provides club facilities for squash, snooker and fitness training in addition to the swimming pool. However, the Council is replacing this facility with a new sports centre.

12.3 There are a number of recreation grounds and private playing fields in the District's built-up areas which are used for soccer, rugby, hockey and cricket. They are also used by local residents for informal recreation.

12.4 In addition to the range of recreation grounds and playing fields, there is a variety of parks and open spaces in the built-up areas which offer opportunities for informal recreation. There are also ten allotment sites which are in the Council's ownership totalling almost 20 hectares within the built-up areas of Dorking, Leatherhead, Ashtead and Bookham (see Appendix 13).

12.5 In the built-up areas there is a spread of children's playgrounds many of which have been provided by the Council on its recreation grounds. There are some residential areas which would benefit from additional provision and it may be possible to address this need during the Plan period although it is recognised that suitable sites are limited.

12.6 There are other recreation facilities in the built-up areas, in addition to the indoor and outdoor sports facilities. These include the Dorking Halls which is used for a variety of concerts and exhibitions. There is also a range of village and church halls in Leatherhead, Dorking, Ashtead, Fetcham and Bookham which provide opportunities for a variety of recreation activities for the local communities.

12.7 The town centres also offer scope for shopping and eating out. In particular, Dorking, with its historic town centre, has a range of restaurants and a reputation as a centre for antique shops. Both Leatherhead and Dorking have a museum. The Dorking museum would benefit from the provision of new accommodation to replace its current cramped premises which do not enable all its exhibits to be displayed satisfactorily. (See Policy DTC10).

12.8 There is a variety of hotels and guest houses in Dorking and Leatherhead and the surrounding built-up areas and there may be scope for limited additional provision, for example through redevelopment schemes in the town centres.

The Villages

12.9 Throughout the rural areas of Mole Valley there are villages of varying size containing a range of recreation facilities. Some of the larger villages such as Westcott have a variety of local facilities and activities including a recreation ground, football and cricket pitch, a bowling green and allotments.

12.10 Most of the medium-sized villages, like Ockley and Leigh, have football and cricket pitches, a village hall, a variety of local clubs and usually a visiting mobile library. The smallest villages have correspondingly fewer facilities and some are shared with neighbouring communities. Most of these smaller villages contain public open space.

12.11 Each parish in the District has at least one village or church hall and at least one village green or sports field usually provided and funded by the Parish Council itself. In most parishes there are also football and cricket clubs and a small area devoted to children's play. In general there is a great diversity of small-scale activities organised by the local communities themselves.

12.12 It is acknowledged that the rural areas have less variety of formal recreational facilities and activities than the nearby urban areas. However, residents in the rural areas have the benefit of immediate access to the countryside, which provides wide scope for informal recreation activities.

The Countryside

12.13 The countryside of Mole Valley provides extensive opportunities for a wide range of informal outdoor recreation activities. The large commons close to the built-up areas and the rights of way network, including two long-distance footpaths, are among the most accessible and popular informal open spaces in the District. The National Trust owns, manages, enhances and preserves about 2,300 hectares of countryside in Mole Valley, much of which is important to the character of the District. Through the Trust, public access is available to extensive areas of attractive countryside much of which lies in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including Leith Hill, Box Hill and Ranmore Common. The Council acknowledges the valuable contribution the Trust makes to the management of the District's countryside and the objectives of the Plan. In addition, the Woodland Trust manages approximately 93 hectares at 6 sites which have public access. The 520 hectares of Norbury Park, which is owned by Surrey County Council, contains an extensive network of rights of way and permissive routes available to walkers and horse riders.

12.14 These informal countryside areas are very well used and need to be managed so they can be sustained in the long term.

12.15 The District's countryside also contains several visitor attractions including the Denbies vineyard at Dorking, the Gatwick Zoo and Aviaries, Lowfield Heath Windmill, National Trust properties and farm trails. There are also opportunities for more formal recreation including camping, caravanning and golf. In addition, there are five private and two public golf courses.

12.16 In general, the countryside of Mole Valley provides a high quality and attractive recreation facility, which is very accessible to local residents and visitors from outside the District. While public access and compatible recreation activities are to be welcomed, it is vital that the countryside is managed sustainably through, for example, management initiatives and visitor information so that its very attractiveness is not undermined.

STRATEGY

12.17 It is the Council's policy to provide indoor recreation facilities at the Leatherhead Leisure Centre, the Dorking Swimming Centre and the Dorking Halls and, in the future, at the new Dorking sports centre. It also encourages self-help initiatives organised by clubs and local communities on Council-owned recreation land.

12.18 The Council's Planning Strategy for recreation development is intended to complement this approach. The objectives of the strategy are as follows:

  • To retain existing recreation land and facilities.

  • To accommodate the demands for recreation facilities in the built-up areas without prejudicing the amenities of the surrounding area.

  • To enable the provision of recreation facilities to meet the deficiencies identified in the Plan.

  • To protect the countryside from inappropriate development that would materially harm its enjoyment for quiet informal recreation.

  • To accommodate the demands for additional recreation activities in the countryside without prejudicing its open character and appearance and where possible enhancing it.

  • To ensure that new recreation developments are accessible to people with disabilities.

12.19 It is vital that all sports and recreational activities are sustainable in the long term without harming the resource on which they rely. This principle will be applied to the countryside where some activities may detract from others' quiet enjoyment as well as to the towns and villages where, for instance, increased car movements and associated parking and activities may be of a scale which is incompatible with the surrounding locality.

DISABLED ACCESS

12.20 The Council wishes to ensure that sport and recreation facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. By paying attention to design, most facilities can be made to accommodate the access requirements of the disabled. Provision not only helps disabled persons participate in sport and recreation but also facilitates and encourages other groups, such as the elderly and parents with young children. Provision of disabled access can often be provided at little extra cost and has economic benefits for those providing services because of potential extra customers. The Council will require that development proposals for sport and recreation are designed to enable access by people with disabilities.

POLICY REC1 - ACCESS TO SPORT, RECREATION AND LEISURE FACILITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
All developments relating to sport, recreation and leisure facilities, whether created by new building or a change of use, should be designed so that they are accessible to people with disabilities.

12.21 The Building Regulations 2000 require that reasonable provision shall be made for people with disabilities to gain access to and within most public buildings and that where audience or spectator seating is provided reasonable provision shall also be made for disabled people. Approved Document M to the Building Regulations gives practical guidance on how the legal requirements can be met. Detailed advice on how access to the countryside for people with disabilities can be achieved is contained in the former Countryside Commission's publication `Informal Countryside Recreation for Disabled People'.

EXISTING PLAYING FIELDS AND SPORTS GROUNDS

12.22 All playing fields and sports grounds, whether school playing fields, or those owned by other public, private or voluntary organisations, are important for their recreational and amenity value, and within the built-up areas for their contribution to the green spaces between development.

12.23 These recreation spaces support a variety of formal sporting activities catering for many local football, rugby, and cricket teams. They may also contain local bowling and tennis clubs and often a small children's play area. These playing fields and sports grounds are not just important for competitive play but are also valuable for informal sport and play, fairs and other occasional attractions, and a whole range of informal recreation including sitting, walking and picnicking.

12.24 A survey of soccer, rugby, cricket and hockey clubs in Mole Valley has been carried out to assess their requirement for pitches against the level of available pitches and establish a local standard of provision. This indicated that the current provision of sports pitches is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the existing clubs. It is therefore considered that the existing provision of 2.47 hectares of playing pitches per 1000 population in the Dorking area and the provision of 1.01 hectares of playing pitches per 1000 population in the Leatherhead area are the minimum standards for these areas and the level of provision should not be reduced.

12.25 The Council has had regard to the likely demand for playing pitches over the lifetime of the Plan, bearing in mind the forecast changes in the composition of the District's population. In this regard, population forecasts for the District for the period to 2006 indicate that there will be about a 6% reduction in the number of children in the 0-14 age group. This should generally maintain the present requirements for school playing fields and sports pitches for junior teams. During this same period there is forecast to be a decline of approximately 16% in the number of 15-29 year olds1, and this may reduce demand for some pitch sports towards the end of the Plan period.

12.26 Nevertheless, if during the Plan period the demand for playing pitches increases, there is scope to make additional provision on the Council's land at River Lane, Leatherhead (see POLICY REC3). Also, some pitches could withstand greater use. The provision of additional pitches may also be appropriate during the Plan period, where for example this would have locational advantages to the population being served. Proposals for new pitches will be considered in the light of POLICY REC4.

12.27 In considering proposals for the alternative use of playing pitches and sports grounds especially in the Leatherhead area the Council will take a long-term perspective, having regard to the needs of future generations, the Government's concern about the continuing loss of playing fields to development especially where this would result in a shortage of playing fields in a local area, and the advice in Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 - Sport and Recreation, that playing fields should be protected.

12.28 Private pitches are also very important because they make a contribution to the overall supply available. Their loss increases pressure on those which remain.

POLICY NOT SAVED

POLICY REC2 - RETENTION OF EXISTING PLAYING FIELDS AND SPORTS GROUNDS

Loss of playing fields and sports grounds through development or use for other purposes will not be permitted except where suitable alternative provision is made.

12.29 Existing playing fields and sports grounds will be protected from development. Exceptionally there may be justification for accepting their loss if they are being replaced by better facilities in a suitable location adjacent or nearby, or facilities can best be retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site.

12.30 POLICY REC2 is intended to relate to a site's sports and recreational function. These open spaces are often just as important for their amenity role and, if within the built-up areas, may be identified as Strategic Open Land or protected as locally important open spaces. (See policies ENV20 and ENV21).

PROVISION FOR OUTDOOR SPORT AND OUTDOOR RECREATION

12.31 Even though existing facilities appear to be able to satisfy demand for playing space at the present time, patterns of demand are liable to change in the medium and long term. To safeguard against this and to reflect the numerical shortfall of sports grounds in the wider Leatherhead area, additional land was allocated for playing fields and sports grounds in the previous Local Plans for Leatherhead and Dorking. Two sites were allocated, at Randalls Road, Leatherhead, and at Inholms Lane, Dorking. The Council intends to retain land at these sites for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation.

POLICY REC3 - LAND FOR OUTDOOR SPORT AND OUTDOOR RECREATION
The following sites as shown on the Proposals Map will be retained for public outdoor sport and outdoor recreation and brought into use as required:
  1. Land west of Randalls Road and fronting River Lane, Leatherhead;
  2. Land on the south side of Inholms Lane at North Holmwood, Dorking.
The permanent use of all or any part of these sites for other purposes will not be permitted.

Randalls Road / River Lane, Leatherhead

12.32 The land at Randalls Road, Leatherhead extends to 19.5 hectares. It is used for a variety of recreation activities including football, model aircraft flying and equestrian events. An area alongside the river has been set aside for public open space. Not all the land is in active recreation use and there is scope to provide additional sports pitches.

12.33 The area identified on the Proposals Map includes 1 hectare of grazing land owned by Thames Water which adjoins the Council's landholdings. The Council will seek to acquire this land and to make it available for outdoor sport or outdoor recreation because it would be beneficial in improving the overall recreational use of the site.

12.34 Any recreational use of the land at Randalls Road will need to have regard to its location within the Metropolitan Green Belt and the activities should not prejudice the amenities of nearby residents. The use of the site for indoor recreation will not be acceptable.

Land at Inholms Lane, North Holmwood, Dorking

12.35 The Council acquired the land to the south of Inholms Lane at North Holmwood, Dorking to enable provision of additional playing space. The Council has not brought the land into formal recreation use but it is used for informal recreation.

12.36 This land will be retained by the Council for informal outdoor recreation. Proposals for formal outdoor recreation may be acceptable provided the activities are not inappropriate to the site's rural Green Belt location, do not require large-scale building, do not disturb the amenities of nearby residents as a result of on-site activities, traffic generation or car parking requirements and meet the requirements of POLICY REC11 of this Plan. There are also legal restrictions which apply to the use of the site to protect its tranquillity. Any facilities will be limited to those which are small scale and essential for the use of the land. The need to retain the rural and tree-lined character of Inholms Lane will be taken into account in considering proposals for a new access to the site. The use of the site for indoor recreation activities will not be acceptable.

PROVISION OF NEW SPORTS PITCHES

12.37 During the period covered by this Plan, initiatives may come forward for the provision of new sports pitches to complement those already provided by the Council.

12.38 The Council will normally encourage the provision of new sports pitches in appropriate locations subject to the safeguards indicated in POLICY REC4.

POLICY REC4 - PROVISION OF NEW SPORTS PITCHES
The provision of new sports pitches will be permitted provided:
  1. they would not detract from the rural character and appearance of the countryside;
  2. they would not materially harm the character and amenities of any adjacent residential areas;
  3. they would not give rise to a requirement for extensive car parking which would materially harm the character of the countryside or the amenities of any properties;
  4. the resulting traffic movements are acceptable in relation to the existing highway network and would not require substantial road improvements or adversely affect the character and tranquillity of the area;
  5. the location is reasonably accessible by public transport having regard to the likely nature, frequency and extent of its use.

12.39 When a planning application is submitted for 'hard' development on former agricultural land of Grades 1, 2 or 3a which has previously been developed for a use which would allow the land to be returned to agriculture, the Council will consult MAFF about the proposals.

12.40 In considering proposals for sports pitches in the countryside, the Council will have regard to the impact of their formal appearance and any related structures, such as goal posts and floodlighting, on the appearance of the countryside. Proposals should not give rise to volumes of traffic along narrow country lanes suitable only for light local traffic that would prejudice highway safety or the tranquillity of the area.

12.41 The Council will seek to ensure that proposals for sports pitches in the built-up area would not adversely affect the residential amenities of the locality through for example floodlighting, noise and high levels of traffic generation.

12.42 The Council considers that any ancillary buildings or structures that may be required should be small scale and discreetly located, especially in the rural areas, in the interests of the visual amenities of the locality. Proposals for ancillary buildings should be submitted, where possible, at the same time as the sports pitches so that the overall impact of the scheme can be assessed.

RESERVE LAND FOR OUTDOOR RECREATION

12.43 In the interests of providing greater opportunity for informal outdoor recreation in the Leatherhead-Fetcham area, it is considered that it would be appropriate to provide a reserve site which could be acquired and brought into use by the Council when a suitable opportunity and/or evident need arises.

12.44 An area of land of 9.1ha (22.5 acres) fronting Cobham Road and Raymead Way has been identified for this purpose.

POLICY REC5 - RESERVE LAND FOR INFORMAL OUTDOOR RECREATION AT COBHAM ROAD, FETCHAM
9.1ha (22.5 acres) of land fronting Cobham Road and Raymead Way, Fetcham as shown on the Proposals Map is reserved for future outdoor informal recreation uses.

12.45 This is an important wedge of Green Belt land separating Fetcham and Leatherhead. It is currently in agricultural use and provides an attractive rural setting to the area around Cobham Road, Raymead Way and Cannon Grove. If the land should no longer be required for agriculture it is considered that it would be suitable for informal outdoor recreation but not for formal playing pitches. The Council would wish to see the area's rural character retained and there may be scope to carry out tree and hedgerow planting and the creation of other semi-natural features as part of any recreation use. Any use of the land should enable it to be returned to agriculture.

CHILDREN'S PLAYSPACE

12.46 The provision of both formal and casual play areas for children is an important element in the overall provision for recreation. Requirements range from small pocket parks suitable for very young supervised children to larger open spaces for older children and teenagers.

12.47 During the 1980s the Council surveyed its housing estates and provided small play areas where deficiencies could be addressed. More recently the Council has been able to support the efforts of local community groups to provide small children's play areas where further provision is welcome. These self-help schemes have generally been successful and will be supported in the future where the location of any new play facilities are acceptable in amenity and environmental terms.

12.48 Within the built-up areas, many of the District's residential estates are within an approximate 400 metre distance of public open space which is suitable for use by children, although not all have formal play facilities. Furthermore many areas of housing have access to the adjacent countryside, and while not generally suited to play for young children, do provide the opportunity for informal recreation.

12.49 While the majority of the larger housing estates have small areas of children's playspace, there are some parts of Ashtead and North Leatherhead where the distribution is substandard. The Cleeve Road Estate in North Leatherhead has been identified as lacking formal and informal playspace. The Council will investigate whether there is scope within the Estate to accommodate a children's play area and will endeavour to provide such a facility if it can be achieved satisfactorily.

12.50 Within the rural areas most villages are well served with areas devoted to children's playspace, often located within the recreation ground and usually under the control of the Parish Council.

12.51 Throughout the District there are other playspaces available within schools but at present these tend to have restricted use. A dual use policy which could utilise further these facilities will be encouraged.

12.52 The existing playspaces are an important recreational resource and it is important to ensure that they are retained.

POLICY REC6 - CHILDREN'S PLAYSPACE
The provision of further children's playspace will be encouraged where it is conveniently located in relation to the population it is intended to serve, is accessible and safe for children to use, does not prejudice the amenities of neighbouring properties and is not visually intrusive.
The loss of existing children's playspace will not be permitted.
POLICY NOT SAVED

POLICY REC7 - CHILDREN'S PLAYSPACE AND NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT

In considering proposals for new residential development the Council will have regard to the need to provide adequate play facilities for young children. The Council will require the provision of children's playspace as part of new housing developments where the scale of the development, either on its own or in combination with existing development in the area, is such as to result in the need for further provision.

12.53 It is expected that all new family housing developments of 50 or more units should provide a small children's play area. In the preparation of smaller housing schemes developers will be expected to give consideration to the provision of modest facilities which could be included at limited cost and would take only a small area of land.

12.54 Play areas within housing estates will be required to be landscaped and appropriately located, so as not to prejudice the amenities of nearby houses. Arrangements for their future maintenance will need to be agreed with the Council. Such areas should provide a range of facilities and where practical include an area to allow small children to practise pedal cycling away from traffic and other playspace users.

ALLOTMENTS

12.55 Allotments provide a valuable form of recreation for many people. The Council control 10 allotment sites totalling almost 20 hectares within or near the built-up areas of Dorking, Leatherhead, Ashtead and Bookham. In addition, there are a number of other sites within the rural areas of the District most controlled by Parish Councils. (See Appendix 13).

12.56 The demand for allotments is known to fluctuate. In Mole Valley a peak was reached in 1976 after which demand fell and then stabilised during the early 1980s. Since 1989 increased interest has been shown and the number of vacant plots is gradually reducing.

12.57 At the present time, the variety and quantity of allotment sites would appear to be adequate to meet the demand for allotment plots in the District. The present vacancies at a number of sites should allow any increased demand to be accommodated.

POLICY NOT SAVED

POLICY REC8 - ALLOTMENTS

Development proposals involving the loss of land used for allotment purposes will not be permitted.

12.58 Of the ten sites controlled by the Council, five lie within the Metropolitan Green Belt where there is a strong presumption against inappropriate development. The five other allotments have been designated as Strategic Open Land (Policy ENV20) where development will not normally be permitted. Nine of the sites are statutory allotments which provide an additional safeguard against their development.

RECREATION FACILITIES IN THE BUILT-UP AREA

12.59 The introduction to this Chapter highlights the wide range of public and private sports and recreational facilities available in the built-up areas of the District. These are important facilities providing a valuable resource for the recreational needs of local people.

12.60 Such facilities can come under pressure from other forms of development. Even if their existing use is no longer viable or necessary, they can often be used in whole or in part for other recreation activities, leisure or community uses. Since other recreation sites are increasingly difficult to find in the built-up areas because of the pressure of development and high land values, such facilities need to be protected even if there may not be an immediate demand for a similar alternative occupier.

POLICY REC9 - RETENTION OF BUILT RECREATION FACILITIES IN THE BUILT-UP AREA
Development proposals that would result in the loss or reduced availability of built recreation facilities will not be permitted except where suitable alternative provision is made.

12.61 The Council will seek to ensure that existing built recreational facilities are retained. Before considering proposals for an alternative non-recreational use of an existing recreational facility, the Council will need to be satisfied that there is no reasonable prospect of another suitable recreation or leisure activity using the property. Exceptionally, there may be justification for accepting the loss of a built recreation facility if it is being replaced by a better facility in a suitable location adjacent or readily available to the population served which accords with the other policies in the Plan.

POLICY REC10 - BUILT RECREATION FACILITIES IN THE BUILT-UP AREA AND VILLAGES
Proposals for new, replacement, and extensions to buildings used for recreational activities in the built-up area and within the boundaries of villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 will be considered in the light of Policy ENV22.
Development proposals for facilities ancillary to outdoor recreation activities in the built-up areas and villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 will be permitted provided they are appropriate in scale to the recreation use and would not prejudice the residential amenities of the area. In considering such development proposals regard will be had to the criteria in Policies ENV20, ENV21 and ENV22.

12.62 In considering proposals for new recreational facilities, the Council will have regard to the existing amenities enjoyed by nearby residents and the benefit accrued from the proposed recreation uses. Some recreation uses can have an adverse effect on neighbouring properties as a result of floodlights, noise and traffic. A balanced judgement will be made between the advantages of the new facilities and any possible environmental disadvantages.

12.63 The Council will give careful consideration to proposals involving the provision of floodlighting. In some cases the use of floodlighting will be unacceptable because of the detrimental impact on residential amenities. Policy ENV57 addresses this and will be taken into consideration in the determination of proposals for recreation facilities involving floodlighting. If they are permitted, controls are likely to be imposed upon the hours of use and to ensure that the lighting is adequately shielded so as to direct light only towards the playing areas.

12.64 When facilities, such as clubhouses, halls and changing rooms are extended or replaced it will be expected that adequate provision be made for disabled access.

12.65 Within the District's villages there are likely to be only limited opportunities to provide purpose built sports halls for public use. With a suitable internal design and changing facilities, a village hall can accommodate a variety of sports uses, such as badminton and table tennis, in addition to its traditional functions. Proposals for such multi-uses will be encouraged if suitable opportunities arise.

BUILT RECREATION FACILITIES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

12.66 Policy ENV2 indicates that development which is required for essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation will normally be permitted in the Green Belt countryside outside villages where it would not conflict with the purpose of the Green Belt or adversely affect its open setting. Policy ENV3 indicates the countryside beyond the Green Belt will be protected for its own sake and its open character will be protected. Recreational development in the countryside that is not ancillary to existing outdoor sport and outdoor recreation activities or for local community use will not normally be permitted. Any large-scale buildings for recreational use, the demand for which would be drawn from a wide catchment and whose location does not have to be in the countryside will not normally be permitted.

POLICY REC11 - BUILT RECREATION FACILITIES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
Recreational development which would detract from the openness of the Green Belt and rural character of the countryside or whose proposed location and use is not incidental to outdoor recreational activities will not normally be permitted. Small-scale essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation will be permitted provided:
  1. the site is suitable for the proposed development;
  2. it would not have an adverse impact on residential amenity or the rural character of the locality;
  3. the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal would not prejudice highway safety or cause significant damage to the environmental character of country roads;
  4. the proposal is satisfying an identified deficiency;
  5. the proposal would not be better located at a site with existing facilities;
  6. car parking provision is discreetly located, well screened and does not significantly harm the rural character of the countryside.

12.67 Only small-scale facilities which are essential and justifiably enable the recreational activity to function and would not harm the rural character of the site and its surroundings will be acceptable.

12.68 Any new buildings permitted under this Policy should be of an appropriate design, materials, siting, be sympathetic to its location and have minimal visual impact. Related car parking areas should be sensitively sited so as not to detract from the open and rural character of the countryside. Development proposals that could generate a requirement for extensive areas of car parking in the countryside will not normally be permitted.

12.69 The re-use of existing buildings to provide ancillary accommodation for outdoor recreation activities will be encouraged, subject to the provisions of Policy RUD19, to minimise the introduction of additional buildings in the countryside.

GOLF COURSES

12.70 There are seven established golf courses in the District concentrated principally around Dorking and Leatherhead. In the Newdigate area a new course has been opened in recent years and another permitted. More generally this part of Surrey is very well served with golf courses. According to the recognised standards of provision there is no overriding need to accommodate further golf courses in the District.

12.71 In considering proposals for new courses, the protection of the District's Green Belt and countryside will be of paramount importance. In this regard it will be important to ensure that a proposal is compatible with retaining and where possible enhancing the openness of the Green Belt and rural character of the countryside. Applicants proposing new courses will be required to demonstrate that there is a need for further facilities.

12.72 New courses are likely to have an impact on the District's landscape because of their extensive size, formal appearance, considerable earth works and new buildings. The Council will seek to ensure that proposals for golf courses do not reduce the distinctiveness and diversity of the District's landscape. The Council is particularly concerned about the effect on the special landscape qualities of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Area of Great Landscape Value and future golf course proposals will be directed away from these areas of high landscape quality.

POLICY REC12 - DEVELOPMENT OF GOLF COURSES
Proposals for new golf courses and extensions to existing courses will be considered against the following criteria:
  1. the impact of the course on the landscape, archaeological remains and historic gardens, sites which are important for nature conservation and identified in Policies ENV9, ENV10, ENV11, ENV12 and ENV13, and the extent to which the proposal makes a positive contribution to these interests;
  2. the extent of any built development and facilities and their impact on the character and appearance of the countryside;
  3. courses will not be permitted on Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3a agricultural land;
  4. the course should have safe and convenient vehicular access to an appropriate classified road. Proposals generating levels of traffic that would prejudice highway safety or cause significant harm to the environmental character of country roads will not be permitted;
  5. the extent to which public rights of way are affected and whether any provision is proposed for new permissive rights of way;
  6. the provision of adequate car parking which should be discreetly located or screened so as not to have an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the countryside.
In considering proposals for new golf courses, the Council will require evidence that the proposed development is a sustainable project without the need for significant additional development in the future, such as hotels or conference facilities.
Proposals for new golf courses should be designed to respect the local landscape character. New golf courses in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Area of Great Landscape Value will only be permitted if they are consistent with the primary aim of conserving and enhancing the existing landscape.

12.73 In determining proposals for golf courses and ancillary development, the Council will have regard to the Surrey County Council's guidelines for the development of new golf facilities in Surrey. Account will also be taken of the existing and proposed provision of courses in the area.

12.74 In considering proposals the Council will require sufficient information, including details of any likely future development to enable the full impact of a proposal to be assessed. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that the level of ancillary development will be adequate to serve the needs of the golf course before the principle of the use is established. In this regard it will need to be demonstrated that the golf course proposal is a sustainable project without additional development such as hotel accommodation, or conference facilities.

12.75 Any ancillary buildings should be small-scale and kept to a minimum in accordance with POLICY REC11. In the case of the golf club house this will be a locker room, small bar, small restaurant and pro-shop, but not a large restaurant/bar catering for the non-golfer, squash courts, swimming pool, or gymnasium. Overnight accommodation will not normally be permitted other than required for staff. Preference will be given to proposals which involve the re-use of existing rural buildings for the accommodation of any necessary facilities.

12.76 The Council will wish to ensure that golf course proposals maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the site. It will be expected that any trees on the site are retained and that new tree planting should be carried out using native species to create new habitats. Landscape features will be required to be preserved and enhanced.

12.77 Details of how it is proposed to deal with public access, wildlife conservation, woodland management, environmental enhancement and traffic implications will be necessary. The Council may require that the application be supported by an environmental impact assessment of the particular locality.

12.78 Golf courses are potentially damaging to buried archaeological features as well as historic landscapes because of the amount of ground disturbance and radical changes to the landscape including historic gardens. When considering applications for golf courses, the Council will consult the County Archaeologist on the impact of the proposals on any archaeological remains so that suitable measures to protect this resource can be taken. Archaeological assessments may be required in accordance with the requirements of Policies ENV48-51. In considering proposals involving historic parks and gardens the provisions of Policy ENV47 will be taken into account.

12.79 The Council will normally seek a Section 106 Agreement to restrict further development and to maintain any pay-as-you-play courses permanently available to the general public. It may also wish to ensure through legal agreement that the course is under construction and substantially complete before commencement and occupation of the clubhouse.

12.80 Stand-alone golf driving ranges are not considered appropriate in the rural areas because of their often intensive use, associated buildings and structures and requirements for floodlighting. A golf driving range has been developed at the Pachesham Golf Centre in Oaklawn Road on the western outskirts of Leatherhead. Other proposals for golf driving ranges on the edge of the built-up areas of the District will be determined on their merits having regard to the other policies in this Plan.

12.81 Golf courses use considerable volumes of water. Proposals for new courses should include arrangements for the storage of water on site to allow for winter abstraction only. When considering proposals for the new courses or extension to existing courses, the Council will consult the Environment Agency to ensure that the interests of water supply are safeguarded. The provisions of Policy ENV67 will be particularly relevant where fill material is used in the formation of a golf course.

WATER-BASED RECREATION

12.82 The main opportunities for the further provision of water-based recreation in Mole Valley are likely to arise following the wet restoration of exhausted mineral workings. When the mineral extraction sites at Tapwood Field and Park Pit, which are sited either side of Reigate Road, Buckland cease operation they will be water-filled, landscaped and used for quiet recreational activities. Most of the clay workings at the South Holmwood Brickworks will also be water-filled when extraction ceases and used for quiet recreation.

12.83 The creation of open areas of water for recreation can have a significant impact on the countryside. The use of open water in the countryside will be limited to low-key informal recreation uses in the interests of protecting the amenities of the locality.

POLICY REC13 - WATER-BASED RECREATION
The use of existing water areas, restored areas of exhausted mineral workings or new man-made water areas for informal recreation will normally be permitted provided:
  1. the activities are low key and quiet;
  2. any associated buildings are small-scale and would not harm the openness of the Green Belt or rural character of the countryside and are compatible with the Plan's landscape protection policies;
  3. the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal would not prejudice highway safety or cause significant harm to the environmental character of country roads;
  4. car parking provision is discreetly located and well screened and does not significantly harm the rural character of the countryside;
  5. the natural environment and nature conservation interests are safeguarded and enhanced.

12.84 Examples of informal and quiet activities may include sailing, sail-boarding and angling. Proposals which provide for the provision of new or further public rights of way, permissive routes and public amenity areas will be encouraged.

12.85 Ancillary buildings and parking areas should be small-scale, kept to a minimum and discreetly located so as not to prejudice the openness of the Green Belt or rural character of the countryside. Proposals for such development will be considered in the light of POLICY REC11.

12.86 The wet restoration of mineral sites and the formation of new lakes provide opportunities for the creation of new wildlife habitats which, if carefully designed and managed, can complement recreational activities on the site. The Council will encourage the provision of areas of land specifically set aside for nature conservation as part of development proposals which include the provision of open water.

12.87 New areas of open water are attractive to birds which may create a bird-strike hazard for aircraft using Gatwick Airport. The Civil Aviation Authority wish to be consulted on proposals involving the construction of new lakes within 8 miles of the Airport and their advice will be taken into account.

HORSE KEEPING

12.88 The keeping and riding of horses for recreation purposes is an increasingly popular activity and has become a major use of land within the District, generating income for the local rural economy. It can also be an important element in farm diversification schemes.

12.89 As the popularity of this recreational activity has increased, some bridleways and commons have become over-used, spoiling their enjoyment for others. In the Headley Heath, Bookham Common, Ranmore and Polesden Lacey areas in particular, the intensity of horse riding on bridleways has led to the deterioration of parts of the network. Consequently in areas under particular stress the Council will have regard to the wider implications of development proposals that would increase the level of horse riding on local bridleways.

12.90 The popularity of horse riding has also led to an increase in the number of stables and horse shelters in the District's countryside, especially around the edge of the built-up areas. The Council wish to ensure that such buildings do not detract from the appearance of the countryside and particular attention will be paid to the siting, design and materials proposed for new stables and similar buildings especially in or near Conservation Areas, the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Area of Great Landscape Value.

12.91 Sufficient land should also be available to avoid overgrazing which can detract from the appearance of the countryside.

12.92 In considering development proposals for horse keeping the Council will have regard to 'Horses in the Countryside', the Code of Practice for owners and riders produced by the former Countryside Commission.

Non-Commercial Horse-Related Development

12.93 Private stables and loose boxes should be located within rather than beyond the curtilage of private dwellings to limit the amount of new buildings in the open countryside. Where this is not practical new stables should be discreetly located to minimise their impact on the appearance of the countryside.

POLICY REC14 - NON-COMMERCIAL HORSE-RELATED DEVELOPMENT
Planning permission will be granted for new horse-related development within, or adjacent to the curtilage of a dwelling provided:
  1. the proposed development is small scale and its location, its design, scale and materials are in keeping with the character and appearance of the area and would not have a detrimental visual impact on the openness of the Green Belt or rural character of the countryside;
  2. the proposed development and any horse-related uses would not be unneighbourly to adjoining residential properties;
  3. sufficient land is available for grazing and exercise;
  4. it would not lead to an over-use and deterioration of bridleways and open spaces in the vicinity;
  5. the riding of horses off-site would not cause inconvenience or danger to pedestrians, drivers or horse riders themselves;
  6. it would not cause significant harm to nature conservation interests.
Planning permission will not be granted for stables and other horse-related development on parcels of land which are not within or well-related to the residential curtilage which the proposed development is intended to serve.

12.94 The Council will have regard to the cumulative effects of horse-related activities and will not normally permit additional development in areas under particular stress from intensive horse use.

12.95 In considering whether sufficient land is available for horse grazing and exercise, the Council will have regard to the standards of the British Horse Society which recommends that between 0.6 and 0.8 hectares (1.5-2.0 acres) of pasture should be available for each horse and that less than 0.4 hectares of land will not provide adequate grazing.

12.96 The Council will give consideration to limiting the number of horses stabled, either by a planning condition or Section 106 Agreement.

12.97 So as to maintain the open character of the countryside the Council may, in appropriate cases, impose conditions requiring the removal of the stable when it is no longer needed for the stabling of horses or ancillary domestic storage.

Commercial Horse-Related Development

12.98 The District is served by several riding schools, livery stables and racing stables. It is acknowledged that there is likely to be a continuing demand for further facilities. The Council considers that a balance must be struck between the need to accommodate the requirements for horses and the long-term protection of the environment.

12.99 The commercial stabling of horses, both in the urban fringe and the open countryside, can require significant buildings as well as generate a great deal of activity.

POLICY REC15 - COMMERCIAL HORSE-RELATED DEVELOPMENT
Planning permission will only be granted for new commercial horse-related development or extensions to existing facilities where:
  1. the proposal can be accommodated without prejudice to the agricultural operation of any holding;
  2. the proposal would not have a significant impact on the openness of the Green Belt or rural character of the countryside and enables the re-use of appropriate existing buildings where possible;
  3. the proposed development is of a design, scale and materials which are appropriate to the character and appearance of the area and which would not have a detrimental impact on the openness of the countryside;
  4. any buildings and related activities would not adversely affect the amenities of adjoining residential properties;
  5. sufficient land is available for grazing and exercise and the facility is close to an existing bridleway and open space network which is capable of absorbing the additional number of horses all year round;
  6. the riding of horses off-site would not cause inconvenience or danger to the horse riders themselves, pedestrians or drivers;
  7. traffic generation, parking and access can be satisfactorily accommodated;
  8. the proposal would not be likely to give rise to significant future requirements for development.

12.100 For the purpose of this Policy, the term 'commercial horse-related development' includes riding schools, livery stables, stabling for polo ponies, racing stables, stud farms and maneges. In considering whether sufficient land is available for the grazing and exercise required under criterion 5, the standards of the British Horse Society, which are set out in paragraph 12.95 will normally be applied.

12.101 In assessing a proposal, the Council will consider the environmental impact, access, parking and traffic implications and the likely future development requirements of the activity. Tree and hedge planting or other measures which help to assimilate the development and improve the appearance of the countryside may be required by condition or legal agreement.

12.102 Proposals for ancillary residential accommodation will first be considered against other relevant policies in the Plan as well as the relevant criteria in POLICY REC15.

12.103 The re-use of existing agricultural buildings for livery stables and similar forms of horse-related development will be encouraged particularly where it is part of a farm diversification scheme which will support an existing farming enterprise in a manner which will help to maintain or, where possible, enhance the countryside.

12.104 The Council is concerned to ensure that new horse-related development would not result in the overuse of bridleways in the District and proposals which include the provision of permissive horse rides will be encouraged. Where this is not possible, the provision of on-site facilities such as sand schools may be appropriate provided they would not cause significant harm to the appearance of the countryside, eg through the provision of floodlighting.

CAMPING AND CARAVANNING

12.105 There is currently a variety of recreational camping and caravanning sites within the District. Under current legislation, 'exempted organisations', such as The Camping and Caravanning Club and the Motor Caravanners Club, have rights to establish small camping or caravanning sites containing up to 5 pitches without planning permission. In 1998 there were ten certificated sites each with a maximum capacity of 5 touring caravans, at Beare Green, Ockley, Newdigate, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking and Charlwood.

12.106 A campsite at High Ashurst, Boxhill provides 300 tent pitches although their use is restricted to organised groups of children and is not open to general public use. There is also a Girl Guide campsite at Westcott and a Scout camp at Boxhill and Ranmore. The Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel on the edge of Ranmore Common has 38 beds as well as camping facilities. In addition, there are recreational caravan sites at Boxhill providing accommodation for approximately 100 caravans.

12.107 The Surrey Visitor Strategy indicates there is a need for touring caravan and camping facilities including camping barns and youth hostels.

POLICY REC16 - NEW SITES FOR RECREATIONAL CAMPING AND CARAVANNING
Development resulting in the loss of existing recreational caravans and camping sites will not be permitted. The provision of new sites for touring caravans and tents, or the extension of existing sites, will only be permitted where they:
  1. are restricted to holiday occupation;
  2. are well-related to the network of major roads, and the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal would not prejudice highway safety or cause significant harm to the environmental character of country roads;
  3. are well-screened and would not prejudice the landscape quality of their setting or have an unacceptable impact on the environment;
  4. would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of adjoining residents and other occupiers;
  5. would not result in a harmful concentration of sites.
The Council will encourage the provision of campsites for lightweight tents, particularly where they are related to the North Downs Way or Greensand Way long distance footpaths.

12.108 For the purposes of this policy, the term 'holiday accommodation' is defined as that which is occupied for limited periods by visitors whose permanent home is elsewhere and who could not expect to send their children to school locally or undergo routine hospital treatment nor would they expect shopping provision equal to that at their permanent home.

12.109 Caravans can be intrusive in the countryside and it is important that sites should be well-designed and managed. Very large sites are unlikely to be appropriate in Mole Valley although in order to have proper management it is recognised that the viability of sites is important. The provision of new sites should take account of the pattern of existing sites and should be reasonably accessible to the M25, A24, A25 and A29. Lightweight tent sites should be readily accessible on foot from the North Downs Way and Greensand Way.

12.110 The provision of such small-scale camping and caravan sites on farms is likely to be an acceptable form of diversification, especially where the re-use of existing farm buildings for ancillary facilities is involved. There may also be opportunities to re-use rural buildings for the provision of basic overnight accommodation and facilities for walkers, especially in locations close to the long distance footpaths that cross the District.

NOISY SPORTS, WAR GAMES AND SIMILAR ACTIVITIES

12.111 While enjoyed by the participants and spectators, activities such as clay pigeon and rifle shooting, model aircraft flying, moto-cross, motorcycling and war games, can have a significant impact on the amenities of local residents and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside. They can also conflict with the more traditional informal countryside pursuits such as walking, horse riding and fishing, as well as conflicting with nature conservation objectives.

12.112 While it is accepted that there is an increasing demand for these sports, the Council will seek to direct their provision to areas where their noise and associated activity would have a minimal effect on residential amenity, the quiet enjoyment of the countryside or nature conservation interests. In determining planning applications, the Council will have regard to how much and how often the noise will be generated and whether there are any topographical or other features in the area which would be likely to limit the noise and other environmental impact of the use on the locality.

12.113 The Council has not identified any additional sites for noisy and disruptive sports in the District and each proposal will be examined on its merits in the light of the policies of this Plan and in particular the following Policy.

POLICY REC17 - NOISY SPORTS, WAR GAMES AND SIMILAR ACTIVITIES
Planning permission will not be granted in respect of the use of land and related development for noisy sports, war games and similar activities unless the Council is satisfied that the proposal would not materially harm:
  1. the amenities of residential properties in the locality;
  2. the character and appearance of the countryside;
  3. the heritage and ecological value of the site;
  4. the safety and enjoyment of users of any nearby bridleways and footpaths;
  5. other formal and informal recreational activities which are pursued in the locality.
Proposals should not give rise to volumes of traffic that would prejudice highway safety or cause significant harm to the environmental character of country roads. Any buildings, structures and car parking areas should be small scale, discreetly located and well screened to minimise the impact on the open character of the countryside.

12.114 War games and similar activities will not normally be considered suitable within sites of recognised conservation value (see Policies ENV9-ENV13) if they would harm flora and fauna. Also, proposals will be subject to particularly close scrutiny within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

12.115 In considering proposals for paintball activities the Council will have regard to the advice produced by English Nature in 1993 titled 'Paintball Games in Woodland'. In accordance with this advice the Council will normally expect as part of any planning application, a mapped appraisal of any wildlife interest on the site and a management plan to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on wildlife interests.

12.116 Where planning permission is granted for noisy sports which include an area of woodland the Council is likely to require additional tree planting through a legal agreement or by planning condition in order that the quality of the landscape does not decline.

12.117 In granting planning permission for such activities, the Council will consider including conditions limiting the times, frequency of use and number of participants. In addition, limitations on the site's use in spring, during the birdnesting and wild flower peaks, possibly by the use of area restrictions may also be required. The Council may also impose a condition requiring the removal of any related structures if the use ceases and they are no longer needed.

RIGHTS OF WAY

12.118 Within the District there are over 700km of designated Rights of Way which are an important and valuable recreational facility that needs to be safeguarded and maintained.

12.119 Many rights of way are under particular pressure from horse riding, mountain bikes, off-road vehicles and from general intensive use. Conflicts of interest often occur between users of rights of way. The Council will work with Surrey County Council, local volunteer groups and other appropriate authorities and bodies to try to ameliorate the damage which over use can cause. Development resulting in activities that would increase pressure on the rights of way network to an unacceptable extent will not normally be permitted.

12.120 Rights of way extend along lengths of the River Mole providing pleasant opportunities for informal recreation. The Council will seek to extend existing rights of way along the river where it would not prejudice wildlife and nature conservation interests, in accordance with Policy ENV8.

POLICY NOT SAVED
POLICY REC18 - RIGHTS OF WAY
In considering development proposals on or within the vicinity of public rights of way, the Council, in consultation with Surrey County Council, will have regard to the need to safeguard and protect these routes for all users of the network.
When consulted on proposals to divert public rights of way, the Council will seek to ensure that the proposed route is equivalent or preferable to the definitive route with particular regard to the safety and convenience of walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the protection of public views, increases in length and connections with other rights of way.
The Council will take suitable opportunities to extend the existing public rights of way in the District.

12.121 Special attention will be paid to development proposals which would affect the route of long distance footpaths, such as the North Downs Way and the Greensand Way. The Council considers that routes joining long distance footpaths are also important and will not normally permit development or consider favourably applications for diversions which would adversely affect rights of way linking these long distance footpaths.

12.122 Proposals involving development in the countryside eg. golf courses, can provide opportunities for creating permissive or dedicated rights of way which allow greater access to the countryside.

12.123 Permissive routes and toll rides for use by horse riders can be an appropriate form of farm diversification and can help take pressure off intensively used bridleways. Such measures will be expected to be investigated by applicants when presenting proposals for farm diversification (See Policy RUD17).

VISITOR-RELATED DEVELOPMENT

The Countryside

12.124 One of Mole Valley's greatest assets is the high quality of its countryside, large parts of which are within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This landscape quality, together with other attractions in the countryside, draws visitors to the District as well as providing recreation opportunities for local residents. Whilst the Council appreciates there are local economic benefits associated with visitors to the District's countryside, it is also very conscious that tourism needs careful handling if it is not to damage the very attractiveness of the District that draws visitors and is valued by local residents. Box Hill and Leith Hill, for instance, are very popular sites with visitors and local people. Sensitive management is required to ensure that the sheer number of visitors does not damage the essential characteristics of these attractive areas. Particular care needs to be taken with the more remote parts of the District if their charm and character are not to be eroded.

12.125 The Council will work with Surrey County Council and the Joint Advisory Committee of the Surrey Hills AONB to support opportunities to improve access to the countryside for both local people and visitors. The principle of providing new visitor-related facilities in appropriate locations and the amelioration of problems at very popular sites will also be supported. The Council recognises that there is an interdependence between tourism and the environment and that tourism must be managed so that the environment is sustained in the long term. Visitor-related development which would result in damage to the resource, prejudice its future enjoyment or bring unacceptable impacts will not be permitted.

Dorking and Leatherhead

12.126 The District's towns also offer attractions to visitors. Dorking's historic market town character, its range of antique shops and the events at the Dorking Halls provide opportunities for visitors to enjoy the town's facilities. There is scope to reinforce and develop the town's historic character which complements its reputation as a shopping centre (See Chapter 9). The form and character of new developments in the town centre can do much to enhance its appearance and the rehousing of the Dorking Museum would help to promote its many interesting exhibits (See Policy DTC10).

12.127 Visitors to Leatherhead can enjoy a range of facilities including the pedestrianised shopping centre, Leisure Centre and the River Mole. In addition, Leatherhead Museum is centrally located within the town and contains an attractive display of local exhibits. It is enhanced by its position near the Mansion House Gardens and access onto the River Mole which links closely with the central shopping area. This is an attractive feature of the town which the Council will seek to maintain and enhance. The Council also wishes to improve the appearance of the High Street area and has put forward proposals for improving access to the town centre (See Chapter 10).

12.128 The District has a Tourist Information Centre in the Dorking Halls and there are several tourist information points where limited visitor information is provided.

POLICY REC19 - VISITOR-RELATED DEVELOPMENT
Subject to other Plan policies the development of new visitor facilities or the extension to existing facilities in the rural areas of the District will be permitted provided:
  1. they are appropriate to the scale, nature, character, appearance and landscape of the area in which they are sited and where possible make a positive contribution to the appearance of the area;
  2. the associated activities do not harm the character and amenities of the locality nor prejudice its future enjoyment;
  3. suitable existing buildings are utilised;
  4. the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal would not prejudice highway safety or cause significant harm to the environmental character of country roads;
  5. car parking provision is discreetly located, well screened and would not significantly harm the rural character of the countryside;
  6. they comply with other policies in the Plan.
In built-up areas new visitor facilities will normally be permitted where they do not prejudice the other policies of the Plan.

12.129 The central objective of the above policy is to achieve 'sustainable tourism' that serves the interests of the environment and the local community. The Council will ensure that new visitor-related facilities reflect the high quality of the District's natural and built environment which is one of its chief assets. Visitor-related development by its nature is often located in sensitive areas. Landscaping, careful siting of development, the re-use of buildings and attention to detail can help developments to blend in with their surroundings. Any new built development will need to complement the natural attractions of the landscape and reflect the character of a particular area.

HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES AND BED AND BREAKFAST ACCOMMODATION

12.130 There are several hotels offering a variety of accommodation in the District's towns and countryside. As most of the District lies in the Green Belt the scope for additional hotel provision is mainly limited to sites in the built-up areas and through modest extensions to existing premises in the towns and countryside. The Council considers it is important to retain the existing stock of hotel accommodation in the interests of the local economy.

12.131 In the north of the District there is hotel accommodation at Bookham as well as several guest houses and bed and breakfast facilities. Local businesses have emphasised the importance of a new hotel and associated facilities in Leatherhead. The Council considers that the redevelopment of the Bull Hotel is the most suitable site for a new town centre hotel and any redevelopment of the site should be restricted primarily to that use. In the event that a new hotel is not achieved on that site, or any other site in the locality, the Red House Grounds Area appears to offer the most suitable alternative (see Policy LTC7).

12.132 The Dorking area is principally served by three hotels and a motel, which was extended in 1996. There has not been pressure for additional hotel accommodation in the Dorking area and there is only limited scope for further provision.

12.133 The proximity of Gatwick Airport has led to pressure for hotel development in the District near the airport. However, the area around the airport lies in the Green Belt and there is little scope for additional hotel provision. The South East Tourist Board report 'South East First' published in 1991 acknowledged that there is a general need for quality budget hotels in the South East, but considered that there is now adequate provision of modern hotels to be found around Gatwick. Since then a new budget hotel has been built on the airport.

12.134 Guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments provide a valuable resource of overnight accommodation in the District's towns and rural areas. The Council takes the view that if the bed and breakfast use takes up no more than 25 per cent of the habitable rooms of a dwelling and not more than 4 people stay at any one time, then there is no material change of use and planning permission is not required. The Council believes that bed and breakfast at or below this level of use may be more appropriate, and would retain the residential characteristics better than a more intensive use of a dwelling which would require planning permission.

POLICY REC20 - CONFERENCE FACILITIES, HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES AND SIMILAR ACCOMMODATION WITHIN BUILT-UP AREAS
Proposals for new conference facilities, hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation, including a change of use, and extension to existing premises in the built-up areas will be permitted provided the development:
  1. is appropriate to the scale, character and appearance of the surrounding area and, in the case of a change of use, to the existing property;
  2. would not result in the development of suitably located housing, industrial or recreation land;
  3. is well located in relation to the main road network or public transport facilities;
  4. satisfactory access and parking can be provided without adversely affecting the amenities of the locality or the appearance of the site;
  5. does not conflict with other policies in this Plan.
The grouping of hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation will not normally be permitted where it would significantly and adversely affect the character of the area.
The change of use of a residential property to an hotel, guest house or similar form of accommodation will not be permitted if the residential element is lost or substantially reduced.
Development involving the loss of hotel accommodation will not normally be permitted.

12.135 The Council will normally give favourable consideration to the provision of hotel accommodation as part of any mixed-use redevelopment schemes in Dorking and Leatherhead town centres.

POLICY REC21 - HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES AND SIMILAR ACCOMMODATION WITHIN VILLAGES
Proposals for the change of use of dwellings within the boundaries of villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 to guest house or bed and breakfast accommodation, or extensions to existing premises will be permitted provided:
  1. the proposals are small scale and retain the residential character and appearance of the property and its curtilage;
  2. the development would not materially harm the amenities of the surrounding area;
  3. the residential element of the property is not lost or substantially reduced;
  4. car parking is limited to that required for the reasonable operation of the proposed use and does not include off-airport parking for Gatwick Airport.
The provision of new hotels within the boundaries of villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 will not be permitted.

12.136 The Council will wish to be satisfied that the level of activity generated by a proposed hotel, guest house or similar form of accommodation in the District's villages can be accommodated satisfactorily and is compatible with the surrounding properties and wider area. In some cases, even though a property may be suitable for conversion to a guest house for example, the increased activity may not be compatible with the character of the area.

POLICY REC22 - CONFERENCE FACILITIES, HOTELS, GUEST HOUSES AND SIMILAR ACCOMMODATION IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
The development of conference facilities and hotels in the countryside will not be permitted other than in accordance with Policies RUD17 and RUD19. Limited extensions to existing hotels, guest houses and similar forms of accommodation will only be permitted provided:
  1. the size of the extension is not disproportionate relative to the size of the original building;
  2. the scale and form of the extension is in keeping with the existing building and would not harm the openness of the Green Belt and rural character of the countryside;
  3. the amount of traffic likely to be generated by the proposal would not prejudice highway safety or cause harm to the environmental character of country roads;
  4. the development would not either individually or cumulatively be likely to give rise to further demands for accommodation which cannot be met within the building;
  5. car parking is limited to that required for the reasonable operation of the proposed use and does not include off-airport parking for Gatwick Airport.
Proposals for new recreation facilities at existing hotels and similar establishments in the countryside will be permitted where the development would not harm the open character, appearance and tranquillity of the countryside.

12.137 The scale of development associated with new hotels and ancillary conference facilities in the countryside should be consistent with the Plan's Strategy which seeks to maintain the open and rural character of the District's countryside.

12.138 Ancillary facilities such as tennis courts and swimming pools will normally be permitted provided they are small scale and would not prejudice the openness of the Green Belt or rural character of the countryside. Recreation facilities at hotels which are not restricted to hotel guests will be considered against the criteria in POLICY REC11.

12.139 The Council considers that advertisements relating to hotels and similar accommodation should be discreet, especially in the rural areas, in the interests of the visual amenity of the locality. Proposals for advertisements should be submitted at the same time as proposals for new development so that the overall impact of the scheme can be assessed.



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