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Chapter 10 - Sport, Recreation and Tourism


10.1 This Chapter relates to the provision and retention of sporting, recreational and tourism facilities and to the retention of open space, playing fields and other recreational facilities.

Policy Context

10.2 The policy context for this Chapter is set out in the following documents:-

- The Revision of PPG17 on Sport, Open Space and Recreation and in PPG21 on Tourism.

- Sport England’s Land Use Planning Policy Statement entitled ‘Planning Policies for Sport’, which provides guidance on Local Plan issues.

- The Essex and Southend-on-Sea Replacement Structure Plan, which contains the following relevant leisure, recreation and tourism policies; LRT1, LRT3, LRT4, LR8, LRT9, LRT10 and in addition policies BE3 and BE4, which deal with the retention of open space and sports grounds and playing fields.

- The Braintree District Quality of Life Plan, which seeks to encourage people to take up leisure activities to improve their physical, emotional and social well-being.

- The National Playing Fields Association Six Acre Standard, which contains guidance on the provision of playing fields.

- Circular 580/01 The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City Academies, which introduces measures that strengthen the protection of school playing fields.


- To ensure that provision is made for sporting, recreation and tourism facilities and good quality open space in sustainable locations, to meet the needs of the District, in order to improve people’s physical and social well-being.

- To ensure that existing sports and recreational facilities, playing fields and open spaces are protected from development.

- To make facilities for sports, recreation and tourism available and accessible to all sections of the community.

- To make urban areas attractive places in which to live. Objectives

- To ensure that major new development provides adequate sports facilities, through the use of planning agreements and obligations and that small developments should make a contribution to nearby sports, or children’s playing equipment.

- To ensure that new development contains a minimum of 10% of the site areas for public open space and to ensure its future maintenance through the provision of a commuted payment, to meet the needs arising from new development.

- To safeguard existing areas of open space and to promote the provision of additional areas: To provide a standard of 2.43 hectares of outdoor playing space and of 0.4 hectares of informal recreation space per 1,000 population, throughout the urban areas of the District and to meet local needs within the rural areas.

- To ensure that open spaces are located and designed in accessible locations, which minimise the risk of crime and vandalism.

- To provide adequate land, of suitable quality, for allotments in appropriate locations, to meet the needs of the District.

- To protect areas of visually important space, which make an important contribution to the character of towns and villages, from development.

- To improve the quality of parks and open spaces in the District.

- To provide a Country Park near Hatfield Peverel to meet the needs of residents in the southern part of the District.

- To support the use of disused railway lines for recreational and nature conservation purposes.

- To promote sustainable tourism and the provision of visitor attractions in appropriate locations, including town centres, and to improve existing tourist facilities and try to make them accessible to all.

Policies and Proposals


10.3 The Council will support the provision of an appropriate range of sports, leisure and recreational facilities in suitable and sustainable locations, preferably in town or village centres, which are accessible by public transport, bicycle and on foot, as well as by car. The level of provision should be based on local assessments of need and take account of wider than local requirements for strategic, or specialist facilities.

10.4 A site has been identified for indoor leisure facilities at the Chapel Hill Retail Park in Braintree. It is intended that these facilities will include a cinema, bowling alley and may also include a swimming pool.

10.5 The Council has identified a need for new community swimming pools for Halstead and Braintree to replace the existing pools, which are outdated and in need of major repair. Lottery funding is being sought for the proposed new Halstead pool, which is intended to be provided as a dual use facility at the Ramsey School. It is proposed that the current Halstead pool site at Parsonage Street will be redeveloped for housing, when the new pool is open to the public.

10.6 It is proposed that a new Braintree swimming pool will be provided, either at the Millennium Way leisure site, shown on the Proposals Map, or at the Braintree Leisure Centre in Panfield Lane. It is intended that the existing Riverside Pool in St Johns Avenue would be redeveloped for housing, after the new Braintree swimming pool is open to the public.

Policy RLP 129 Sports and Leisure Facilities

Proposals for sports and leisure facilities, which require substantial buildings, including change of use, should normally be located within town or village centres. If no suitable sites within these areas exist, then such developments may be acceptable, as an exception, on edge-of-centre sites provided that:

- they are conveniently accessible by both public and private transport, bicycle and on foot from nearby residential areas

- they are located where there are no overriding traffic problems and access to the development will be safe

- they have no detrimental effect upon residential amenity, or the environment

- they are compatible with other policies in the plan. If there are no suitable sites within town boundaries or village envelopes then sites adjoining urban areas may be considered if they meet the criteria set out above.


Policy RLP 130 Indoor Sport and Leisure Site, Braintree

(Site developed; Policy expired 24 July 2008)

Retail Park A site for indoor sport and leisure facilities, which may include a cinema and bowling alley is allocated at Braintree Retail Park.


Policy RLP 131 Swimming Pool, Millennium Way, Braintree

(Swimming Pool construction completed; Policy expired 24 July 2008)

A site for a swimming pool is allocated off Millennium Way, Braintree, as indoor sport and leisure.


Policy RLP 132 Community Swimming Pool, Ramsey School, Halstead

(Swimming Pool construction completed; Policy expired 24 July 2008)

A site for a dual use, community swimming pool is proposed at the Ramsey School, Halstead, which is allocated for Education on the Halstead Inset Map.


10.7 There is continued demand for golf courses, driving ranges and associated facilities, which can have a significant effect upon the landscape, particularly if they include large areas of car parking.

10.8 Proposals for new golf courses and associated facilities should comply with guidance set out in the ‘Essex Golf Report’, which was prepared by the Essex Planning Officers Association in 1990 and adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by this Council in November 1990.

10.9 Proposals for golf facilities affecting Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Registered Parks and Gardens will not be permitted.

10.10 The development of unrelated facilities at rural golf clubs, such as hotels, conference facilities and leisure centres will not be permitted, because of their effect upon the countryside and unsustainable locations.

10.11 Golf driving ranges would be more suited to urban fringe, rather than to countryside locations.

Policy RLP 133 Golf Courses

In considering proposals for golf courses, the following criteria will be applied:

(1) The development of golf courses in highly visible countryside such as prominent sites on scarp slopes, valleys, exposed plateaux and ridges will not be permitted.

(2) Golf courses will not be permitted within Sites of Special Scientific Interest, or Registered Parks and Gardens.

(3) Golf courses will need to be located so that safe and convenient access can be made to the principal road network, without the need to use long stretches of unsuitable rural lanes and pass through small settlements.

(4) On golf courses within a rural location, built development will be restricted to those facilities essentially required to serve the club. The conversion of existing buildings will be preferred. Other large-scale buildings in the countryside, not essentially related to the use of land for golf, will not be permitted.

(5) Proposals for residential development and holiday accommodation in association with golf courses in rural areas will be firmly resisted.


10.12 A number of sporting and recreational activities can give rise to noise and disturbance, which can detrimentally affect ‘noise sensitive’ development such as housing, schools and hospitals. These noise generating activities can include shooting, motor sports, airsports, war games, model aircraft flying and activities using motor boats.

10.13 It is important that such noise generating sports are situated in appropriate locations, so that they do not affect noise sensitive development, unless the noise impact can be minimised to an acceptable level. Restrictions will also be imposed upon hours of operation where necessary.

10.14 Locations which could be suitable for noisy sports include sites close to noise generating uses, such as dual carriageways and the mainline railway. Other sites, which might be suitable, include existing degraded sites and former mineral workings, that are remote from noise sensitive development, where environmental impact could be minimised to an acceptable extent.

Policy RLP 134 Sports Causing Noise or Disturbance

Proposals for sport or leisure facilities and activities likely to cause noise or disturbance will only be permitted if:

1) Harm would not be caused to noise sensitive development by the nature, scale, extent, frequency or timing of the proposal;

2) There would be no unacceptable increase in traffic on minor roads.


10.15 Floodlighting is an integral part of some sports facilities, such as tennis courts, golf driving ranges and synthetic pitches. This can provide for additional use of sports facilities, but can be intrusive and lead to residential and other amenity problems, can have a detrimental impact on the countryside, and create light pollution in the night sky. The design of floodlighting will be expected to minimise glare and light spillage from the site and to the night sky.

Policy RLP 135 Floodlighting of Sports Facilities

Floodlighting of sports facilities will be permitted, provided that it is not unacceptably intrusive, or has an unacceptable impact upon the surrounding area and it minimises glare and light spillage from the site. Consideration will be given to the effect of light upon local residents, vehicle users, pedestrians, nocturnal fauna and the night sky. Consideration will also be given to limiting the hours of use.


10.16 Open space, sport and recreational buildings and land allocated for that purpose on the Proposals Map must not be developed unless they have been shown to be clearly surplus to requirements (This does not include structural landscaping, which should be retained for that purpose.) Land such as parks, recreation grounds, playing fields and allotments should not be regarded as ‘previously developed land’, which can be targeted for housing development.

Policy RLP 136 Formal Recreation Policy

Development that would result in the loss, or reduction of formal recreation sites (that is, playing fields and pitches and recreational buildings) allocated on the Proposals Map will not be permitted unless:

- The development is for buildings ancillary to open space; or for non-commercial community uses, or

- The owner of the site demonstrates that they are required to move in order to upgrade their facilities. In this case, alternative open space will be provided, which is of an equivalent, or improved facility and where it is readily accessible to the catchment population of the existing site and there is no resulting loss of visual amenity.


Policy RLP 137 Open Space Standards

(Policy superseded 19 September 2011 by Core Strategy Policy CS10 Provision for Open Space, Sport and Recreation.)

Development proposals will be considered with regard to the National Playing Fields Association minimum standards for outdoor playing space, of 2.43 hectares per 1000 population.

This is broken down into :-

Outdoor Sport (Youth and Adult Use) Pitches, greens, courts 1.6 - 1.8 ha per 1,000 population

Children’s Playing Space 0.6 - 0.8 ha per 1,000 population

Subdivided to :-

Outdoor equipped playgrounds/adventure playgrounds 0.2 - 0.3 ha

Casual or informal space within housing areas 0.4 - 0.5 ha.


Policy RLP 138 Provision of Open Space in New Housing Developments

In proposals for new residential development, the District Council will require land to be made available for open space. The open space will be for play areas and for formal recreation and shall be adequate in terms of size and location to meet the needs of the development that it serves. Where open space is to be provided for the benefit of the development itself and is to be dedicated to the Council, a commuted payment will be required to cover future maintenance costs. Appropriate provision of play equipment, or a commuted sum to cover its costs, should also be made. A Supplementary Planning Document will be prepared on open space standards. Where individual developments would not warrant a directly associated open space provision, but where cumulatively, and over time, there would be a requirement for open space, commuted payments to provide open space will be required.


10.17 Allotments are a valuable resource, both for allotment holders in terms of cultivation and healthy recreation and for the wider community, as open areas within towns and villages, in terms of visual amenity. They can also be seen as a way of helping achieve a more sustainable lifestyle and are in accordance with Local Agenda 21 principles.

10.18 Development will not be allowed on allotments identified on the Proposals Map, unless alternative equivalent provision is made, or it can be shown that the allotments are no longer required.

Policy RLP 139 Allotments

(Policy superseded 19 September 2011 by Core Strategy Policy CS10 Provision for Open Space, Sport and Recreation.)

Development that would result in the loss of an allotment site defined on the Proposals Map will be resisted unless:

- The allotments are replaced by the applicant at a location within an equally convenient walking distance of the site’s potential catchment area and on land of similar quality; or

- It is demonstrated that the allotments are no longer needed now, or in the foreseeable future;

- The development of the allotments would not result in the loss of an area important to visual amenity.


10.19 The Rivers Brain, Colne and Blackwater flow through the towns of Braintree, Halstead, Witham and Sible Hedingham and their valleys are important for informal recreation, wildlife corridors, in places as nature reserves and contain in parts cycle and footpath routes.

10.20 Disused railway lines, which are open to the public are situated between Witham and Maldon (the Blackwater Rail Trail), between Braintree and Great Dunmow (the Flitch Way) and in parts of the Colne Valley. These are also important for informal recreation, nature conservation and contain in parts cycle, footpath and bridleway routes.

10.21 The Council intends to protect river routes and disused railway lines from development and these areas are shown as informal recreation and nature reserves on the Proposals Map. The Council will also seek opportunities to extend public access where appropriate. Cycleways and improved footpaths, and where appropriate bridleways, will be provided in locations identified on the Proposals Map. The Council will also seek to improve signposting and waymarking where appropriate.

Policy RLP 140 River Walks/Linear Parks and Disused Railway Lines

The Proposals Map defines the river walks/linear parks in Braintree, Halstead, Witham and Sible Hedingham, as informal recreation. Disused railway lines, where recreational use is proposed, (including those sections of the Flitch Way and Blackwater Rail Trail within this District) are also defined as informal recreation. Part of the River Colne at Sible Hedingham and the Colne Valley disused railway line, at White Colne are protected as a nature reserve.

Any development that would prejudice the implementation of the river walks/linear parks, or the use of disused railway lines for recreational purposes, will not be permitted. In considering proposals for the development of adjacent land, the District Council will seek opportunities to extend and improve river walks/linear parks and links to them. Cycleways and improved footpaths and bridleways will be provided where appropriate at river walks and disused railway lines.


10.22 The Council will support the development of informal recreation in the countryside, the provision of water recreation areas and the provision of Country Parks at Great Notley and Hatfield Peverel, as set out in the policies below.

10.23 The Council intends to promote nature conservation and increased access to the countryside, wherever possible. The Colne Valley has large areas of attractive countryside. However, over the years changing farming practices, housing and industrial development have had an effect upon the landscape and wildlife. The Council set up the River Colne Countryside Project in 1989, in partnership with Colchester Borough Council, to seek to offset some of the more damaging effects and to promote the conservation and management of the Colne Valley.

10.24 The Project aims:

- to promote and enable the involvement of local people in sustainable action to care for their environment

- to maintain, protect and enhance the landscape character and biodiversity of the area and to protect cultural and heritage sites

- to improve and promote opportunities for countryside recreation and public access

- to promote awareness and understanding of the countryside and environmental issues

- to secure grant funding and use resources effectively

10.25 The Council is also a partner in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Project, which covers part of this District and includes land within several other local authorities. The project was set up in 1981 and extended in 1988 and 1992 to help to protect this valuable landscape. It aims to maintain and enhance the special character of the landscape by works including tree and shrub planting, to encourage quiet informal recreation and to promote appreciation of the countryside.

The Council supports the provision and maintenance of other walks in the countryside. An example of such a walk is the Ter Valley Walk, which connects Terling Ford to Fuller Street.

Policy RLP 141 Informal Countryside Recreation Areas

Facilities for informal countryside recreation including, where appropriate, further provision and extension of country parks and the provision of water recreation facilities will be encouraged in the following locations:

- Stour Valley

- Colne Valley

- Gosfield Lake to Shalford

- Chelmer, Blackwater and Brain Valleys

- and also in association with the restoration of disused mineral workings.

There should also be informal recreation space of 0.4 hectares per 1,000 population within urban areas.


Policy RLP 142 Country Parks

The site of the existing Country Park in Great Notley has been identified on the Proposals Map and will be protected for this use. A site for a new Country Park between Hatfield Peverel and Witham is also shown on the Proposals Map and it is proposed to secure its implementation as an after use of sand and gravel extraction.


10.26 The Council recognises the growing importance of tourism to the local economy. There is an identified demand for new tourist accommodation as a result of the expansion of Stansted Airport and the proposed new development at the Essex Showground.

10.27 New hotels are therefore appropriate in the area of the A120 close to Braintree, which is the part of the District most accessible to these tourist generators. Elsewhere, hotels, guest houses and Bed and Breakfast accommodation are more appropriate close to town centres, or where they can be accessed by a variety of different modes of transport. Within the countryside, conversions to holiday accommodation are more appropriate than new buildings.

10.28 During the period of the plan there may be opportunities to increase the number of tourist attractions in the District. These will be encouraged providing that they do not conflict with the surrounding environment.

10.29 The District has a number of villages and towns that are well visited by tourists due to the high quality of the built or historic environment. Such settlements include Finchingfield, Castle Hedingham and Coggeshall. It is important that within these settlements facilities for visitors are maintained and enhanced in order to promote tourism without detracting from the features that make them attractive to visitors.

Policy RLP 143 Touring Caravan and Camping Sites

Touring caravan and camping sites will be permitted in appropriate locations, subject to the following criteria:

(a) Sites should be well screened in order to minimise the impact upon the local environment

(b) Good access should be available to sites without requiring road improvements, which would be harmful to the rural environment

(c) Essential services can be provided

(d) They would not use the best and most versatile agricultural land

(e) They should not cause harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding countryside.


Policy RLP 144 Static Caravans, Chalets or Cabins

Static caravans, chalets and cabins will only be permitted where there is no significant impact on the character of a designated area, road safety, landscape, wildlife, or residential amenity and where essential services can be provided. The location of sites must not be in an area liable to flooding, nor cause the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land and should be well screened.

In locations where permanent residential use would not normally be permitted, but holiday use is acceptable, conditions will be imposed limiting the period of occupancy to ensure that the units remain available for holiday use.


Policy RLP 145 Additional Tourist Attractions

The District Council will encourage the provision of additional tourist attractions where:

- The character and appearance of the locality will not be damaged

- It would have no significant impact on local amenities

- Access is available by a choice of means of transport

- The vehicular access to and from the highway is safe


Policy 146 Tourist Accommodation

Proposals for hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation will be permitted within village envelopes and town development boundaries if the character and appearance of the locality will not be damaged. This applies to new building, change of use of an existing building or extension to existing accommodation.

Within the countryside, the conversion of existing buildings for tourist accommodation will be encouraged in preference to the construction of new buildings. Large scale development proposals which are out of character with the rural areas will be resisted.


Policy 147 Hotel Policy

Sites for high quality design hotels are considered suitable at Great Notley Business Park, and land enclosed by Panners Roundabout, which has been designated a ‘Special Policy Area’. Development will be permitted in these locations where it satisfies amenity, design, environmental and highway criteria.


Policy RLP 148 Visitor Facilities in Villages

The District Council will support and promote proposals for improved visitor facilities such as toilets, car parks, information and signage in those villages subject to visitor pressure.

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