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Chapter 11 - Community Facilities


11.1 This Chapter relates to the provision and retention of community facilities, together with the retention of facilities in rural areas. It covers the provision of community halls, educational facilities, places of worship and cemeteries.

Policy Context

11.2 Government advice in PPG12 refers to the need to consider the relationship of the local plan to social needs and problems. It advises local authorities to consider the extent to which they can address the issues of social exclusion through land use planning policies. It states that plans should make provision for education and health facilities, places of worship and other community facilities. Advice is set out in Circular 580/01 on the Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City Academies. The Essex and Southend-on-Sea Replacement Structure Plan does not include policies relating to the provision of community facilities.


11.3 To meet the needs of our communities by ensuring that land is allocated and retained for necessary community facilities, in order to provide for the social needs of all.


11.4 The objectives of the Plan in relation to community facilities are:

- To seek the retention of local community facilities, where there is a local need for these.

- To allocate land, in sustainable locations, to meet the identified need for additional community facilities.

- To ensure that the provision of community facilities is linked to new development. Private sector funding, will be expected from developers to provide new facilities, where it is required to serve their proposed developments.

- To ensure that the need for additional cemetery provision is met in the Braintree and Bocking urban area.



11.5 The County Council has identified the need for a new primary school as part of the development of the new neighbourhood of up to 850 dwellings, on land off Maltings Lane and Hatfield Road, Witham.

Policy RLP 149 Primary School Site, Witham

A site is identified for a new primary school at the new neighbourhood development on land off Maltings Lane, Witham.

11.6 Educational sites, mainly schools, provide vital community facilities in terms of their buildings and their school grounds, which are valuable both in terms of meeting recreational needs and as visual amenity open space. Where sites can be clearly demonstrated to be surplus to existing and future educational requirements within the plan period, the Council would wish to see these utilised for alternative educational or community uses, wherever possible.

11.7 In cases where the educational use is being retained, but land is claimed to be surplus to requirements, the District Council will require clear evidence of assessment against Government standards and projected school rolls. In all cases, account will be taken of any deficiencies in open space provision in the locality, which the site could remedy and the scope for dual use of playing fields. Regard will be paid to advice set out in Circular 580/01 on The Protection of School Playing Fields and Land for City Academies.

Policy RLP 150 Educational Establishments

The change of use or redevelopment of educational establishments and their grounds, identified on the Proposals Map, will not be permitted unless:

a) It can be clearly demonstrated that the use of the site is genuinely redundant and no other alternative educational or community use is needed, or can be found; or

b) Satisfactory alternative and improved facilities will be provided; or

c) The area of the site to be redeveloped is genuinely in excess of Government guidelines for space standards, taking into account future educational projections.

In all cases account will be taken in determining an application for development of any deficiencies in public open space requirements in the area and the contribution the site could make to remedying that deficiency.


11.8 The District Council recognises the importance of maintaining local community facilities within the rural parts of the District, (that is, outside the three towns of Braintree, Witham and Halstead) to maintain sustainable communities and to reduce the need to travel to urban areas. The retention of these facilities is important to meet community needs, to maintain the vitality of rural communities and to prevent social exclusion. These facilities include shops, public houses, general stores, post offices, banks, petrol stations and doctors surgeries.

11.9 The allocation of land for additional development in these rural communities may not be the solution to retaining local services, as this will not necessarily ensure the retention, or provision of these facilities. The survival of many services may be dependent upon diversification of existing facilities, for example the provision of post office facilities within village halls or public houses and combining petrol stations and general stores and by voluntary initiatives such as community shops and transport.

11.10 The District Council will, wherever possible, having regard to other material planning considerations, seek to retain rural community facilities. Applications for planning permission involving their loss will be resisted, unless exceptional circumstances justifying their loss can be demonstrated, or they are replaced in an equally good, or more sustainable, location.

Policy RLP 151 Protection of Community Services

Proposals that would result in the loss of key community facilities, or services, outside the urban areas, will be resisted, unless sufficient evidence is provided to demonstrate that they are not economically viable and that all other options for their continuance have been fully explored, or they are replaced in an equally good, or more sustainable, location.


11.11 A need has been identified by the District Council for additional cemetery provision to serve the Braintree and Bocking urban area. It is estimated in 2001 that there is sufficient land remaining to meet future burial needs for approximately four to five years at Braintree and seven years at Bocking Cemeteries. The Institute of Burial and Cremation Administration has calculated the need, on behalf of the Council, for 118 new graves per annum to meet the requirements of the Braintree and Bocking urban catchment area.

11.12 Land is therefore allocated off Church Lane, Bocking, previously used as College playing fields, to provide for an extension to the Bocking Cemetery, of 2.31 hectares. This should provide for the medium term needs of the District Council for cemetery land.

Policy RLP 152 Cemetery Extension, Bocking

Provision is made for a cemetery extension at land off Church Lane, Bocking.


11.13 A number of the villages and towns in the District, have older community halls, which do not possess the facilities to meet the modern needs of the communities, which they serve. Development will only be permitted if provision is secured for community benefits and infrastructure, which are directly related to the development proposal and where such provision is fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to it.

11.14 Where development creates a need for new, or expanded, community or village hall facilities, developers will be expected to fund, or contribute to this provision. This will range from the expansion of existing halls to the provision of new halls, depending upon the size of the development. Development will only be permitted if provision is secured for community benefits and infrastructure, which are directly related to the development proposals and where such provision is fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to it.

Policy RLP 153 Community and Village Halls

Proposals to upgrade and enlarge existing community and village halls or to create new ones, in sustainable locations, will be supported subject to satisfactory siting, design materials and landscaping.

11.15 A long-standing need has been identified for a community hall in Coggeshall. A site has been identified for this purpose to the rear of Stoneham Street. This site is considered to be the most suitable location for a community hall, as it is close to the town centre and public car park.

Policy RLP 154 Community Uses Site, Coggeshall

Land is allocated to the rear of Stoneham Street, Coggeshall for community uses, which is intended as the site for a new community hall.

11.16 A need has been identified by Great Yeldham Parish Council for a new village hall in the centre of the village, as the existing hall does not meet modern requirements. A site has been provided for that purpose west of The Street, through a planning agreement relating to the development of housing at Whitlock Drive. The Parish Council intend to seek Lottery assistance with financing the provision of this hall.

Policy RLP 155 Village Hall Site, Great Yeldham

Land is allocated to the west of The Street, Great Yeldham for community uses, which is intended as the location for a new village hall.

11.17 In Halstead, land adjacent to Priory Hall has been identified as a potential residential site, but it is intended that the existing main school buildings and an adjoining area for car parking should be retained for use by the community. A development brief will be required which shall include dedicated parking and structural landscaping to serve the Community Use and the retention of existing mature trees within the site.

Policy RLP 156 Community Uses Site, Colchester Road, Halstead

(Policy expired 24 July 2008)

The former Priory Hall School Hall building, Colchester Road, Halstead is allocated for community uses.

11.18 The existing village hall at White Colne is situated on former railway land off Bures Road. The Parish Council wish to ensure that this land remains available for community uses, including the village hall, car parking and a children’s play area.

Policy RLP 157 Community Uses Site, White Colne

Land is allocated to the west of Bures Road, White Colne for community uses, to include a village hall, car parking and childrens’ play area.

11.19 The District Council identified the need for a community hall and place of worship, as part of the development of a new neighbourhood of up to 850 dwellings on land off Maltings Lane and Hatfield Road, Witham in the development brief for that site.

Policy RLP 158 Community Uses Site, off Maltings Lane, Witham

Land is allocated within the new neighbourhood, off Maltings Lane, Witham for community uses, which will include a community hall, health facilities and a place of worship.

11.20 The District Council wishes to ensure that the existing hall, and its curtilage adjacent to Bridge Hospital, Hatfield Road, Witham is retained for continued community use.

Policy RLP 159 Community Uses Hatfield Hall, Hatfield Road, Witham

The former Bridge Hospital Hall, Hatfield Road, Witham is allocated for continued community uses.


Policy RLP 160 Local Facilities in Rural Areas

Proposals to provide village halls and other community facilities for local needs in rural areas may be acceptable on sites outside, but adjacent to, village envelopes if the following criteria are satisfied:

- The site should have no overriding planning or infrastructure constraints; and

- There should normally be Parish Council support for the local community facility.

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