banner top right

You are here: Home > Local Plans > Policy Documents > Written Statement

Chapter 13

Community Facilities


13.1 Community and social facilities include schools, health and welfare facilities, emergency services, youth and community centres, church and village halls and library facilities. They are provided by a wide variety of public and voluntary bodies.

13.2 The range of community and social facilities is an important aspect to the quality of life enjoyed in the District's towns. Such facilities are equally important in the rural areas where they can play a central role in village life. They can be especially valuable in these circumstances to the elderly and less mobile. Although the Council cannot prevent closures or cutbacks, it will support the retention of facilities wherever possible by protecting them against proposals for alternative forms of development.

13.3 The Government is encouraging a policy of 'care in the community' for individuals who are able, with appropriate support, to manage in their own homes or in adapted accommodation. The Epsom hospitals are closing and many of their residents are likely to be rehabilitated both into the local community where they may require small bed-sit type accommodation within larger houses, sometimes with warden assistance. Other aspects of the 'care in the community programme' include the care of a variety of other individuals who may be disabled, physically unwell or elderly within their own home, with support from the Social Services rather than their transfer to a hospital or rest home.

13.4 The Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has concentrated community health care facilities on a reduced site at Dorking Hospital. It is also understood that the Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust also wish to update the accommodation and services available at Leatherhead Hospital.


13.5 The Council will encourage the provision of social and community facilities in Mole Valley in response to the reasonable needs of the District's existing and future residents. The objectives of the Plan's strategy are:

  • To retain the existing stock of buildings which provide accommodation for social and community facilities.

  • To enable the provision of facilities in response to the needs of the local community and the changes in service provision.

  • To support the improvement of health care facilities at Dorking and Leatherhead hospitals.


13.6 The Council recognises the importance of the wide range of community facilities in Mole Valley and the contribution they make to the quality of life in the District. Although the Council cannot prevent closures or cutbacks, it will normally support the retention of facilities which are of recognised local value by protecting them against proposals for alternative forms of development.

Proposals for the change of use or redevelopment of buildings which would result in the loss or reduced availability of community services and facilities will not be permitted unless alternative facilities are provided at locations readily accessible to the population served or there is no demand for such facilities in the locality.

13.7 Proposals for the change of use of existing community and social facilities will be required to be accompanied by evidence that alternative facilities are available or that there is no demand for them. In the case of the latter, this might include evidence of attempts to dispose of the property for community/social uses. Where it is claimed there is no demand for community facilities, the Council will consult with the County Council and other service providers including the voluntary sector. If this reveals an inadequate existing range of facilities, the Council will prefer that the buildings which are the subject of the proposed change of use are used for social/community proposes.

13.8 The above Policy and explanatory text will also be relevant in considering the re-use of community buildings in the countryside and those villages identified in Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3.


13.9 During the period covered by the Plan there may be a requirement for additional community facilities including education, meeting places for community and religious organisations, and a range of health and medical services such as doctors' surgeries, health centres and similar premises.

13.10 POLICY CF2 sets out the Council's general approach to the provision of community facilities in Mole Valley.

The Council will grant planning permission for the development, expansion or change of use of premises for community facilities in the District's built-up areas and in the villages defined in accordance with Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 provided that:
  1. the proposed use would not detract from the character and appearance of the property and surrounding area;
  2. the development is required to meet the needs of the locality which cannot be met through the use of existing community premises;
  3. the location of the proposed development is accessible to the population being served including by public transport;
  4. the scale of the development is appropriate to the needs of the local community;
  5. the development would not have an adverse impact on the amenities of the locality, especially those of neighbouring properties;
  6. the parking and access requirements can be satisfactorily accommodated and the amount of traffic generated would not adversely affect highway safety or the residential amenities of the locality.

13.11 In the District's built-up areas, the provision of medical and health services is likely to be most appropriate in town centres and locations where there is convenient public transport and which is close to a pharmacy. Such facilities may also be acceptable in residential areas on suitable sites where the use would not have a significant impact on nearby residential properties. In residential areas, rear garden parking will often be inappropriate because of the likely adverse effect upon adjoining neighbours. It will normally be expected that on-site car parking is achieved to the appropriate standard and in an environmentally acceptable way. It is recognised that schools may generate a degree of parking and activity at certain times of the day which cannot be accommodated entirely within the site. However applicants for new facilities will be expected to consider all reasonable measures to limit the impact of schools upon the surrounding area, and proposals which would adversely affect highway safety will not be acceptable.

13.12 The Council may permit the use of existing residential accommodation for a doctor or dentist or veterinary surgery as an exception to Policy HSG1 where it is justified to meet the local community's need for such facilities.

13.13 Exceptionally, proposals for community facilities in villages not identified in Policies RUD1, RUD2 and RUD3 may be acceptable where they are required to serve the identified needs of the local community. This approach complements the positive measures being undertaken by the Surrey County Council and the voluntary sector, including the Surrey Voluntary Services Council and the Surrey County Association of Parish and Town Councils to help rural communities in Surrey retain village services and facilities.

13.14 In considering proposals for additional community facilities the Council will seek to ensure that the access arrangements meet the needs of those with sensory or physical disabilities.


13.15 During the period of the Plan it is likely that proposals will come forward for accommodation for people requiring care in the community. This can take several forms including nursing homes for the elderly and accommodation for those needing care and rehabilitation treatment after suffering mental illness. Most of the accommodation required is likely to be provided through the conversion of existing large dwellings and the following Policy is intended to provide criteria and guidance against which such proposals can be considered. Proposals for new purpose-built facilities will be considered in the light of POLICY CF2.

Proposals for the change of use of residential properties to homes providing care and rehabilitation treatment will be permitted provided:
  1. the dwelling is suitable for the use proposed having regard to:
    1. the size and location of the property;
    2. the number and size of bedrooms;
    3. the scope to provide staff facilities, communal areas and such other associated facilities as may be required;
  2. the property is detached and within a curtilage of adequate size to permit sufficient amenity/recreation space and the provision of means of fire escape without detriment to adjoining properties;
  3. the conversion can be achieved without adversely changing the character and appearance of the property or the need for major extensions and would not prejudice the residential amenities of adjoining properties;
  4. the use and associated activities would not have a detrimental effect on local amenities or the character of the area, by itself, or cumulatively;
  5. the property can be easily converted back to private residential use should the new use cease;
  6. satisfactory access and parking can be provided without adversely affecting the amenities of the locality or the appearance of the site.

13.16 In granting permission for a change of use, the Council may restrict the number of residents and limit changes to any other use within the same use class. Restrictions may be appropriate particularly to control car parking and traffic generation. In certain cases this may be required through a Section 106 Agreement.

13.17 Detached properties are likely to be the most suitable for conversion to provide accommodation for people requiring care and rehabilitation. They should be situated in sufficiently spacious grounds to avoid overlooking of adjacent properties especially from upstairs rooms. Boundary screening should be provided to prevent any loss of privacy to adjoining properties.

13.18 The Council will wish to be satisfied that the level of activity generated by the use can be accommodated acceptably and is compatible with the surrounding properties and wider area. In some cases, even though the property may be suitable for conversion the increased activities may not be compatible with the character of the area.

13.19 It will usually be expected that converted properties retain their residential characteristics and do not require major extensions as part of the change of use. Additions such as fire escapes should be sensitively located. Sufficient space should be available within the site to accommodate the required level of car parking without adversely affecting the appearance of the property or the residential amenities of the locality.

13.20 People recovering from mental illness tend not to be car owners and accommodation for them should be located close to shops, services and public transport facilities.

13.21 In considering proposals that provide accommodation for care in the community, the Council will have regard to similar and other non-domestic properties in the vicinity and will seek to avoid a concentration of non-residential uses in a particular street or neighbourhood where this would cumulatively increase activity and gradually erode the residential character and amenities of the locality.


13.22 The Children Act 1989 introduced guidelines and a registration system for child minders which is administered by Surrey County Council. The Children Act allows a single registered child minder to care for a maximum of 6 children up to 8 years old, including those in the operator's own family. In registering any child minder at a particular property, the County Council takes account of factors such as the type of property, play space and highway safety.

13.23 Planning Policy Guidance Note 4 - Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms indicates that child minding complying with the Department of Health's standard recommended ratios, contained in the Children Act, would be unlikely to mean that the character of a house's use as a single dwelling had ceased and would not normally require planning permission. However, in some circumstances where the property is, for instance, of a small size, child minding activities at the standards recommended may involve a material change of use and require planning permission.

Planning permission will be granted for the use of existing buildings for child minding and related activities provided:
  1. the property can accommodate satisfactorily the number of children proposed without undue detriment to the amenities of neighbouring properties;
  2. the property is suitably located and the scale of use proposed is compatible with the surrounding area;
  3. the highway access, parking, turning and any increased traffic movements can be accommodated satisfactorily;
  4. in the case of a residential property, the residential characteristics are retained and the floorspace occupied by the child care activities are a subsidiary element retaining the residential dominance of the property;
  5. the proposal would not result in an undue concentration of similar uses in a particular locality.

13.24 Dwellings used for child minding should remain predominantly residential in floor area with the child minding element a subsidiary feature. Those running the child minding business should normally live within the house, although it is appreciated some staff may be required.

13.25 It will be important to ensure that the children and related activities can be accommodated without undue disturbance to the amenities of neighbouring properties. Detached houses with reasonable sized gardens are therefore likely to be the most suitable for child minding uses. It will be expected that the property should retain all its residential characteristics without extensive hardstandings to accommodate the required car parking and turning areas. Such activities will generate increased car movements and it will usually be preferable for any premises not to be located within a cul-de-sac or small-scale street. Proximity to the classified road network and a location on the periphery of residential areas in the built-up areas of the District will be preferred. It should be possible to drop off and pick up children attending the house without adversely affecting highway safety and preferably within the curtilage of the property.


13.26 There are two National Health Service hospitals in Mole Valley at Leatherhead and Dorking, and private hospitals at Ashtead and Hookwood. Services at the Leatherhead and Dorking hospitals are provided by the Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust and the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Leatherhead Hospital

13.27 Leatherhead Hospital lies at the corner of Fortyfoot Road and Poplar Road. The Epsom and St. Helier NHS Trust have indicated they are likely to declare part of the site surplus and would wish to use the proceeds to provide improved medical facilities at the Hospital. The Council understands that the likely area of surplus land will be in the north west corner of the site fronting Poplar Road and Leach Grove and extending to approximately 0.6 acres.

13.28 The Hospital lies in a residential area with access from Poplar Road and St. Johns Road. Both these roads experience on-street parking and are not suitable for significant amounts of additional traffic. If the Trust dispose of any surplus land the Council is likely to favour its use for a low-key residential use (e.g. sheltered housing) provided that the scale, character and design of the development is appropriate to the area, is acceptable in highway terms, allows for the retention of any trees of significant amenity value and would not significantly harm the amenities of the area.

< Previous | ^ Top | Next >