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7. Leisure and Cultural Provision

7.1. The policies in this section have the following objectives:

  • To safeguard existing open space within towns and villages for either formal or informal recreation.
  • To enable the provision of community facilities in villages, which would accommodate activities central to village life, even where development would not normally be permitted.
  • To develop sport and leisure facilities at key sites and enable outdoor recreation in the countryside whilst protecting its character and amenities.
  • To ensure that play facilities are included in developments where appropriate.
  • To support tourism in Uttlesford within the capacity of its towns and countryside to accommodate visitors.
  • To improve access to leisure and cultural facilities and to ensure that all leisure and cultural provision is accessible for the benefit of the whole community to ensure social inclusion.

Sports Fields and Recreational Facilities

7.2. As there is already a deficiency in the number of playing pitches, policy LC1 is concerned with total or partial loss of playing fields, open space and allotments. It applies whether the facilities are still in active use or whether through ownership, for example, this is now prevented. It also applies to development that would prejudice the use of land as playing fields, open space or allotments. It is not intended to prevent the provision of facilities such as changing rooms, pavilions and club houses. If replacement facilities are proposed these must be at least as good as those lost in terms of location, quantity, quality, and management arrangements. They must also be made available before development of the existing site begins. An assessment of current and future needs will need to submitted demonstrating that there is an excess of playing fields in a locality and the catchment of the facility, or that the site has no special significance to sport or recreation, if planning permission is to be granted for development under exception b).

Policy LC1 - Loss of Sports Fields and Recreational Facilities

Development will not be permitted if it would involve the loss of sports fields or other open space for recreation, including allotments. Exceptions may be permitted if either of the following applies:

a) Replacement facilities will be provided that better meet local recreational needs;
b) The need for the facility no longer exists.

7.3. The Council intends to work with town and parish councils to provide and/ or improve facilities in the District

7.4. Extensions or additional facilities at existing sports and leisure centres or school sites with potential for dual school and community use will be permitted outside as well as within settlements.

Access to Leisure and Cultural Facilities

7.5. All development proposals for leisure and cultural purposes, whether new build, conversion or extension need to be accessible to all, to ensure social inclusion.

Policy LC2 - Access to Leisure and Cultural Facilities

Development proposals for sports facilities, arts and leisure buildings, hotel and tourist facilities, will be required to provide inclusive access to all sections of the community, regardless of disability, age or gender.

Policy LC3 - Community Facilities

Community facilities will be permitted on a site outside settlements if all the following criteria are met:

a) The need for the facility can be demonstrated;
b) The need cannot be met on a site within the boundaries;
c) The site is well related to a settlement.

Policy LC4 - Provision of Outdoor Sport and Recreational Facilities Beyond Development limits

The following developments will be permitted:

a) Outdoor sports and recreational facilities, including associated buildings such as changing rooms and club-houses;
b) Suitable recreational after use of mineral workings.

7.6. The Council’s Leisure and Cultural Strategy emphasises the importance of working with partners to ensure that opportunities exist for all young people to play and to have access to play facilities, acknowledging the National Playing Fields Association standards. Supplementary Planning Documents will be prepared setting out the requirements for play facilities associated with development.

Tourist Accommodation

7.7. The development of tourism is supported to increase the economic benefits to the district provided this is done in a sustainable way. If the development involves the re-use of a rural building, Policy E5 will also apply.

Policy LC5– Hotels and Bed and Breakfast Accommodation

New building, change of use of an existing building or extension to existing accommodation will be permitted within development limits if the development would not harm the character or amenities of the surrounding area. Development outside development limits will only be permitted if either of the following apply:

a) it involves the re-use of a rural building; or
b) it is an extension or replacement of existing serviced accommodation.

Land west of Little Walden Road Saffron Walden

7.8. Saffron Walden is the focal point for the northern half of the district yet it is deficient in a number of leisure and cultural amenities. The town lacks a modern Arts and Community centre. The existing venue of the Town Hall which was built in 1879 and is a listed building which restricts alterations, provides a level of accommodation below modern expectations. Secondly Saffron Walden has a longstanding problem of inadequate provision of playing fields, and does not meet the National Playing Fields Association standards.

7.9. A site west of Little Walden Road, Saffron Walden, close to the Town Centre, has been identified to provide a mixed development consisting of a community centre, playing fields and associated car parking. A Master Plan will be prepared in consultation with the Town Council, residents, and local sports clubs to identify the juxtaposition of uses, and the type of playing fields needed.

Policy LC6 - Land West of Little Walden Road Saffron Walden

A site west of Little Walden Road, Saffron Walden has been identified to provide a community centre and playing fields as part of a mixed development scheme as proposed by Policy SW7.

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For further information, please telephone (01799) 510454 or 510461. Email: planning@uttlesford.gov.uk