7. COMMUNITY FACILITIES

7.1.

The Plan’s vision places “community development” at its heart. The Council aims, through this Plan, to foster the provision of a broad range of facilities that contribute to the vitality of communities. This includes community buildings, leisure and recreation facilities, shops and local services, as well as education and primary health provision.

7.2.

Recreational provision embraces sports facilities and play space together with other open spaces used for leisure purposes, such as parks and gardens, as well as seminatural and amenity greenspaces/corridors. Allotments are a further, specific form of open space. Such facilities are a key component of the social “infrastructure” of towns and villages and play a major role in terms of community cohesion and the “liveability” of places, as well as in health and well-being.

7.3.

The importance of ensuring sufficient well-managed recreation facilities is emphasised in Government policy guidance PPG17: Planning for Open Spaces, Sport and Recreation. The Council itself seeks to provide for the full range of people’s recreational and leisure needs in a manner compatible with the natural resources and environmental qualities of the area.

7.4.

New and improved community facilities

A need for new village halls has been demonstrated at Etchingham and Flimwell. Specific provision is through mixed-use allocations at Policies VL2 and VL4. Elsewhere, contributions to new or improved village halls may be sought from housing development in villages where a need is identified, in accordance with Policy GD2.

7.5.

Village halls and community centres can be regarded as vital community facilities. Also, valuable in community life are churches, nursery and pre-school groups, the uniformed associations (i.e. guides, scouts, etc) and similar organisations for significant sections of the population. These generally rely on local voluntary involvement and promote a sense of community.

7.6.

Where proposed development has implications for community facilities that can be identified now, then the need for contributions to new or enhanced facilities are identified in relation to the relevant allocation. In addition, policies for new or improved community facilities and the treatment of any development proposals involving their loss, which may come about during the Plan period are considered below. Section 5 contains a policy that sets out the basis for requiring contributions to such facilities from new development where appropriate. Taken together, these policies should maintain and strengthen local communities.

7.7.

Where proposals come forward for community facilities for which there is a demonstrable local need, it is considered appropriate, where necessary, to allow some flexibility in relation to locations not within but adjacent to development boundaries. At the same time, such proposals should be seen to be consistent with other policies of the Plan, notably in relation to maintaining the character and setting of settlements.

7.8.

The exception to normal planning policies provided to proposals for community facilities on sites outside development boundaries should not extend to enabling development. The Council takes the view that a financial advantage of enabling development could rarely justify the resultant conflict with the good planning of the area, as reflected by the Local Plan policies.

POLICY CF1 View Map of this site ?

Proposals for new or improved community facilities will be permitted within development boundaries where they accord with the criteria at Policies GD1 and DS1. Such facilities will be permitted outside development boundaries where, in addition:

  1. there is a demonstrable local need, having regard to the characteristics of the population, the results of any public surveys and recognised standards of provision;
  2. there is no scope for the need being met within the development boundary;
  3. the proposal is demonstrated to provide significant community benefits;
  4. the proposal is readily accessible by the community it serves by means other than the car;
  5. there is no significant harm to the countryside setting.
7.9.

Recreation standards and open space facilities

In terms of the overall provision of land for sports and recreation, the standards of the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) have been used as the benchmark to assess adequacy of supply. However, recent Government guidance (PPG17: Planning for Open Spaces, Sport and Recreation), urges that each local authority should carry out its own assessment of the needs of local communities and the opportunities to meet these needs. Further guidance on setting standards is contained in ‘Assessing needs and opportunities: A Companion guide to PPG17’.

7.10.

Policy GD2 imposes a general obligation to ensure that the infrastructure and facilities required to serve a development are in place. It is considered appropriate to specifically seek contributions towards recreation and play facilities where a clear need exists from housing development that would impact on such facilities. A threshold of 5 dwellings is considered to be of an appropriate magnitude.

7.11.

In order to set local standards, it will be necessary to carry out a robust assessment of both quantitative and qualitative aspects of provision as soon as is practical. As an interim measure, it is proposed to retain policies based on a combination of NPFA standards and actual needs identified through consultation processes, as a close correlation has been found in the past between known needs and deficiencies and the NPFA standards. Indeed, a shortfall against NPFA standards is found for the Parishes of Brede and Etchingham where there is a recognised outstanding need locally for further provision.

7.12.

Policies DS1 and GD1 are also relevant to proposals for recreational facilities. PPG17 itself also sets out criteria to be applied in identifying suitable locations. Policy CF2 below is consistent with PPG17 insofar as it protects existing open spaces, sports and recreational buildings and land from being built on.

POLICY CF2 View Map of this site ?

Development which would result in the loss of a recreational facility, playing field, play space, amenity open space or allotments will not be permitted unless:-

  1. an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the facility or area to be surplus to the requirements of the community which it serves, and;
  2. the facility or area is not needed for an alternative form of community facility provision which is in deficit locally and for which the site is suitable; or
  3. alternative provision is made elsewhere in the locality that is at least equivalent in terms of size, usefulness, attractiveness and quality or which would result in a net improvement in the quality of the facilities.

POLICY CF3 View Map of this site ?

The need for proposals for new or enhanced facilities for sport, recreation and amenity purposes will be ascertained by a Districtwide assessment to be undertaken as soon as practicable but, in the interim, will have regard to National Playing Fields Association guidelines, as set out in Appendix 3, in conjunction with any local assessments.

Where a need is demonstrated planning obligations will be used to secure contributions to new or improved local recreation or play facilities, and access to them, from residential developments of 5 dwellings or more.

7.13.

Play space for children is vital to their healthy and social development, as emphasised in PPG17. Residential development should include appropriately sited, designed and both equipped and non-equipped play areas. Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that such areas are located where children will be safe and where nuisance to surrounding properties will be avoided. Where public open spaces and play areas are provided as part of a new development, arrangements should be made for the continued long term care of the area, ideally by its conveyance to the Town or Parish Council, together with appropriate funds for maintenance.

7.14.

Where housing proposals fall below the threshold, contributions to meet the needs of the development may still be required in accordance with Policy CF3 above.

POLICY CF4 View Map of this site ?

In association with new residential development, developers will be required to provide at least 0.1 hectares of play area for every 50 dwellings, unless adequate facilities are already availablenearby. In certain instances appropriate amenity provision may be required for residential development of less than 50 dwellings where a shortfall has been identified in the locality. Improvements to existing play facilities in the locality may be sought in accordance with Policy CF3.

7.15.

Recreational and leisure facilities in rural areas should be related to local needs and the generally quiet enjoyment of the countryside. Structure Plan Policy EN9 sets a broad framework for the consideration of extensive and noisy activities in the countryside, which policies DS1 and GD1 of the Plan complement to provide a basis for the proper control of development.

7.16.

Equestrian development

Rother District is a popular area for equestrian activities although the activity is more orientated towards individual and private pursuit rather than being commercially orientated. Nevertheless, the High Weald does provide an attractive landscape and some attractive villages for horse riders to ride through plus a good bridleway network.

7.17.

Should new equestrian enterprises, particularly those of a commercial nature, come forward for consideration, the Council is anxious that traditional farm buildings should be utilised as a base for their development. Such buildings will become available as a result of the changes occurring in agriculture, both in terms of the re-structuring of holdings and the redundancy of traditional buildings unsuited to modern farm methods. New equestrian enterprises should be located in or based on buildings of this kind, both to help ensure new uses for traditional buildings and reduce the pressure for new structures in the countryside, particularly in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

7.18.

Proposals for new dwellings associated with equestrian enterprises will be dealt with in accordance with the policy criteria for residential development in the countryside as set out earlier in Section 6 at Policy HG10.

POLICY CF5 View Map of this site ?

Development of new or in connection with existing equestrian establishments will be permitted provided:-

  1. there will be no significant adverse effect on the landscape character of the area nor on the residential amenities of dwellings in the locality;
  2. the development normally involves a change of use of existing farm buildings or is within or adjacent to such building;
  3. where new buildings are involved, they must be located, and designed and of materials in keeping with its rural setting, with particular attention will be paid to new proposals in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
  4. the proposal will not give rise to additional traffic problems in the area;
  5. where the enterprise will involve riders making additional use of bridleways in the area, they must be adequate in extent to accommodate that use without prejudicing their continued use by other users including walkers and cyclists. Where they are not, a planning obligation will be sought with the applicant and the County Highway Authority to secure necessary improvements to the routes.
7.19.

Renewable Energy

The Council is seeking to encourage wherever appropriate, the harnessing of renewable energy sources and the development of renewable energy schemes.

7.20.

Reducing the need to burn fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) will cut emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Generating electricity from renewable sources will help towards meeting national targets, as well as diversifying and dispersing energy generation, adding to the security of supply, the development of new technologies and the provision of jobs, especially in rural areas.

7.21.

Government planning policy on renewable energy is contained in PPS22, published in August 2004. The policies in this statement cover technologies such as onshore wind generation, hydro, photovoltaics, passive solar, biomass and energy crops, energy from waste (but not energy from mass incineration of domestic waste), and landfill and sewage gas.

7.22.

In October 2002, the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) published their draft Strategy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy “Harnessing the Elements”. This aims to promote greater energy efficiency, increase the uptake of combined heat and power schemes and generate more power from renewable energy resources. It looks to development plans and design briefs to provide detailed policies and proposals.

7.23.

The draft minimum targets for the South-East region are that 4% (450MW) of regional electricity shall be generated by renewable energy by 2010, 6% (700MW) by 2016 and 14% (1,610MW) by 2026. Currently, only 0.65% is generated by renewable energy, most of this from the combustion of landfill gas. National targets are higher than the regional targets with 5% by 2003 and 10% by 2010. SEERA proposes subregional targets for East and West Sussex of 106MW by 2010 (including up to 30MW from bio-mass) and of 115MW by 2016 (including up to 40MW from bio-mass).

7.24.

Within Rother District, there is short-term potential for bio-mass, while favourable wind conditions prevail along the Fairlight-Hastings-Heathfield ridge for on-shore wind power. However, any proposals would need to be compatible with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation. In the longer term, off-shore wind power and photovoltaic solar power offer the most potential.

7.25.

Public Art

Rother District boasts a strong cultural dimension in terms of cultural history and facilities, notably the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. Public art can positively contribute to the overall appearance and distinctiveness of an area and a movement towards a cultural renaissance. This can help to stimulate regeneration, inward investment, encourage tourism, reduce crime and help encourage a sense of social identity.

7.26.

Public art should be permanent and may include sculpture, street furniture, murals, stained glass or the involvement of professional artists and crafts people in the design of public spaces.

7.27.

The Arts Council promotes the “Percent for Art” concept, whereby a proportion (1%) of the capital budget of a development project is set aside to commission works of art. The Council will seek a contribution towards the provision of public art as part of commercial and residential developments throughout the district. Public art may also be considered as part of any environmental enhancement scheme.

POLICY CF6 View Map of this site ?

Where appropriate, opportunities will be sought for the provision of public art in association with large-scale commercial development or in residential developments of more than 50 dwellings.

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