National Planning Guidance
8.1 Government guidance on sport and recreation is set out in PPG17 “Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation” (July 2002). PPG17 sets out the Government’s main objectives for sport and recreation as promoting sustainable patterns of development, promoting social inclusion, health and well being, and supporting an urban renaissance and a rural renewal. It significantly extends the scope of the previous guidance in regard to open space. The guidance emphasises the importance of sport and recreational facilities, advising planning authorities to adopt a strategic approach to the provision and enhancement of facilities, based on a proper understanding of local needs and existing provision.
8.2 The government wishes to see a strong protection of existing open space; accessible sport and recreation facilities by a choice of modes; and the provision of good quality facilities as an integral part of new communities.
8.3 Government guidance on tourism is set out in PPG21 “Tourism” (November 1992). The guidance sets out the issues that development plans should consider. Tourism is a major contributor to the national economy, both in urban and rural areas. Planning policies should consider ways in which the economic and potential regeneration benefits of tourism can be developed whilst dealing with the implications for the transport system, the impact on the environment and the need to protect key tourism assets, including characteristic landscapes, sites of biodiversity value, historic buildings and townscapes etc.
Replacement Structure Plan
8.4 Policies in the RSP seek the retention of existing open space and preclude its displacement into the adjacent countryside. Sports grounds and playing fields are to be protected and joint use of local authority owned premises encouraged.
8.5 Policies also state that sites for sports and leisure centres should be located within or adjoining urban areas identified in local plans; support the provision of outdoor recreational facilities, landscape improvements and access within Thames Chase (subject to Green Belt policies); advise on the location of large scale or intensively used formal countryside recreation facilities; and advise that local plans should provide for the creation of new or extended country parks and the safeguarding of existing informal outdoor countryside recreation areas and the rights of way network.
8.6 Policies in the RSP direct large scale tourism development to within or adjoining the main urban areas or seaside resort towns, and only elsewhere if open in character, but in all cases subject to a number of criteria aimed at justifying the location in terms of need and taking due account of the considerations set out above in PPG advice.
8.7 The RSP also advises on the provision of tourist accommodation, again directing new accommodation to existing settlements and emphasising the need to have regard to green belt policies and environmental and other designations outside the development boundaries of settlements.
Brentwood Community Plan
8.8 The Community Plan’s strategic objectives that are relevant to the Replacement Local Plan’s Sport & Leisure, Tourism and Community Services Policies are set out under the headings “Leisure and Culture”, “Sustainable development and the Local Environment” and “Health and Welfare”, and include:
“To improve the availability of high quality and accessible leisure, recreational and cultural opportunities by:
- Ensuring that sport and leisure activities and facilities are accessible to everyone, including people who are frail, elderly and those with disabilities.
- Developing a wide and varied range of leisure activities and facilities in order to provide the community with the opportunity to enjoy their leisure time”
“To seek to make provision for appropriate housing, employment and other development to meet the needs of the Borough, whilst conserving and maximising resources and enhancing the character and environmental quality of the Borough for the benefit of current and future generations, by:
- Preserving the environment and the amenity of the Borough through the appropriate maintenance of parks, trees, verges and open spaces”
“To ensure that the people of the Borough have a healthy life and general environment by:
- Removing or controlling those adverse factors affecting the health and welfare of local people in both the living and working environments, by educating, advising and enforcing statutory duties and discretionary powers
- Seeking to ensure that the fullest range of health services are available to meet the needs of Brentwood’s residents”
- Working in partnership with other organisations and agencies to promote and improve health and social care in the borough, and to assist where possible the needs of the frail, the elderly and people with disabilities.”
THE AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN’S SPORT & LEISURE. TOURISM AND COMMUNITY SERVICES POLICIES
To develop social, cultural, educational, health and recreational facilities in the Borough
- To maintain and improve the range, quantity and quality of social, cultural, educational, health and recreational facilities
- To increase the Borough’s attraction to visitors whilst conserving and enhancing the Borough’s natural and built heritage
- To protect and enhance public and private open space and other land of recreational, conservation, wildlife, historical or amenity value
- To facilitate the provision of a range of overnight accommodation within the Borough
- To encourage the joint use of educational buildings and sports facilities
- To assist the Health Authorities, County Social Services and other relevant Agencies in the provision of a desirable distribution and quality of health and welfare facilities to meet the needs of the local population
- To ensure that the accessibility needs of persons experiencing mobility difficulties are met whether living, working, shopping or undertaking leisure or social activities in the Borough
SPORT, LEISURE AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES
8.9 The Council recognises the importance and value of sport and recreation and leisure pursuits to the health and well-being of people and the contribution that open spaces can make to the attractiveness of urban areas and their settings. Sports facilities and open spaces can also contribute to achieving sustainable patterns of development, and through the provision of a range of facilities in accessible locations can promote social inclusion. However, land use planning is invariably concerned with seeking a balance between the demands on land for a wide range of uses and interests. In the countryside the demand for sport and recreation may need to be reconciled with the needs of agriculture, nature conservation and the amenity of those living within the rural area. In urban areas high land values and pressure for housing and commercial development mitigate against open space and recreational uses. It is, therefore, particularly important to safeguard existing open space and recreational facilities from such development and provide additional facilities whenever the opportunity arises.
8.10 Brentwood as a whole is generally well provided with formal and informal recreational and leisure facilities and open space. Being set entirely within the Metropolitan Green Belt has the benefit of access, via the rights of way network, to extensive open areas for informal recreation. In addition, the Borough has two extensive Country Parks in South Weald and Thorndon, providing some 324 hectares of informal open space, together with other publicly accessible playing fields, parks, and woodlands. The main public indoor sports and recreation facilities are the Brentwood Centre, which caters for an extensive range of recreational activities as well as providing a popular venue for major cultural events such as concerts or sporting competitions, and the Shenfield Sports Centre, a joint use school facility. There are also a number of privately run sport and leisure facilities, such as the Clearview Tennis Centre, the Warley Leisure Park, and many golf courses.
8.11 Smaller scale local facilities provide for multiple uses, catering for not only recreation and leisure but also providing for other local community use such as play groups, local clubs, social activities and public meeting space.
8.12 Facilities in the Borough are not only used by the local population but also by people from surrounding districts and parts of London due to its accessibility by road and rail. Brentwood's location in relation to the motorway network, Central London, Stansted Airport, City Airport and the east and south coast ports also make it attractive to visitors, both in terms of tourism and business trips. It is very likely that such visitors will also make use of the local sport and leisure facilities as well as other attractions within and outside the Borough.
8.13 In setting out policies to retain and enhance the provision of sport, recreation, leisure, community and tourism facilities in the Borough, regard will continue to be given to other corporate plans and programmes such as the Community Strategy, the Recreation and Cultural Strategy and the LA21 Strategy.
8.14 Public open space can be broadly divided into two categories: informal open space and formal open space. Informal open spaces are those sites where maintenance is minimal and as a result have a natural or “wild” appearance. Formal open spaces are those sites that have a high degree of maintenance and as a result have a “manicured” appearance.
Strategic Public Open Space
8.15 The recent revision of PPG17 (July 2002) identifies the ability for informal open space to perform multiple functions, one of which is a “strategic function”, defining and separating urban areas; better linking town and country; and providing for recreational needs over a wide area.
8.16 Within the wedges of open land referred to in paragraph 7.12 the Council has been able to acquire significant areas of public open space to add to that previously held, thus providing large areas of strategic public open space abutting the edge of the built up area of the town.. These areas will be managed and improved to provide for greater public access and further opportunities for informal recreation for the general benefit of residents of the town and surrounding areas. As opportunities arise and funds are made available, the quality of existing provision will be enhanced and additional open space provided.
AREAS OF STRATEGIC PUBLIC OPEN SPACE AT THE FORMER WARLEY AND ST. FAITHS HOSPITAL SITES, MERRYMEADE PARK AND HUTTON COUNTRY PARK SHALL BE MANAGED AND IMPROVED TO PROVIDE FOR GREATER PUBLIC ACCESS AND FURTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR INFORMAL RECREATION
Development of Existing Open Spaces
8.17 Open spaces provide sports pitches and other formal sports facilities for active recreation and opportunities for informal or passive recreation. In these respects they serve wide catchment areas that may extend beyond the Borough’s boundaries. They also provide local residents, particularly young children, with nearby recreation opportunities. However, in addition to their recreation value, open space (both public and private sites) also has value for amenity, pollution attenuation, moderation of the urban microclimate, and supporting biodiversity. These contribute towards human well-being and have positive economic effects.
8.18 Open spaces, therefore, add considerably to the landscape character, visual amenity and biodiversity value of the urban landscape. Together with the protection of other natural features and landscaping within the urban area (see also Policies C3 and C5), the retention of such areas will help to safeguard the well landscaped character of the town as well as continuing to provide for the recreational needs of residents and encourage ecological variety.
8.19 Development of existing urban open spaces will, therefore, not be permitted, although proposals for buildings on existing open space related to the main open use of the land, which do not involve major ground coverage, may be considered favourably.
WITHIN THE BUILTUP AREAS OF THE BRENTWOOD BOROUGH, PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT OF LAND ALLOCATED ON THE PROPOSALS MAP AS PROTECTED URBAN OPEN SPACE OR OTHER PREVIOUSLY UNDEVELOPED LAND.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Areas Deficient in Open Space
(1) Informal Open Space
8.20 In 1996 English Nature adopted the following standards for the provision of Accessible Natural Greenspace: -
- No person should live more than 300m from their nearest area of natural greenspace with this normally being greater than 0.25 ha;
- Provision should be made for at least 2 ha of Local Nature Reserves per 1000 population;
- There should be at least one accessible 20 ha site within 2km from home;
- There should be one accessible 100 ha site within 5km;
- There should be one accessible 500 ha site within 10km.
8.21 As referred to earlier, within the Borough of Brentwood there is a good level of provision of larger sites close to the edge of the urban centre. As well as established sites such as Thorndon and Weald Country Parks (which are in excess of 100 ha.) and Hartswood there are the new countryside sites such as Hutton Country Park Local Nature Reserve, most of which are over 20ha. The Borough also contains a number of small urban sites, primarily remnant ancient woodland. Further informal recreation facilities are also expected to be provided through the continuing development of the Thames Chase Community Forest, which covers a substantial part of the southern half of the Borough (see Policy C11).
8.22 The clearest area of deficit in the Borough is the shortfall in Local Nature Reserve (LNR) provision. The first site to be designated is Hutton Country Park LNR in 2001, which has an area of 35 ha. To meet the recommended target approximately 100 ha. of suitable sites need to be designated (this issue is discussed in Paras. 9.15 & 9.16 and Policy C2).
8.23 Although there is good overall provision of larger sites on the urban fringes consideration will be given to providing additional areas within the urban area. These should ideally be of at least 0.25 ha, and can comprise of a range of habitats, for example, woodland, natural grassland or ponds.
(2) Formal Open Space
8.24 It has been a long standing recommendation of the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) that the minimum standard for outdoor playing space is 2.43 hectares per 1000 population (referred to as the "NPFA 6 acre standard"). Such space is defined as “being safely accessible and available to the general public, and of a suitable size and nature, for sport, active recreation or children’s play” e.g. pitches, tracks, courts, playgrounds, etc. This definition does not include open space for informal recreation, ornamental gardens, commons, woodlands, golf courses, etc. The standard has recently been the subject of a review by the NPFA and considered to continue to be relevant (source: The Six Acre Standard: Minimum Standards for Outdoor Playing Spaces, NPFA 2001). The standard is divided into two sub categories
- Outdoor Sport – 1.6 ha. (including 1.2 ha. for pitch sports)
- Children’s Playing Space – 0.8 ha.
8.25 At present, there is no comprehensive assessment of existing outdoor playing space in the Borough to compare against the NPFA standards. It is intended that further work be undertaken to assess current provision, but available information would indicate that there is an under-provision and an uneven distribution over the Borough. However, the NPFA recognises that the standard is not necessarily achievable in all areas, but it can be used as a target for local provision and should be met in all new developments.
8.26 Provision of formal open space, in general, is largely concentrated in the Pilgrims Hatch, Warley, Hutton North and Ingatestone and Fryerning areas, with under provision in central Brentwood and central and east Hutton areas.
8.27 Children’s Playing Space is sub-divided further in the NPFA standards into Local Area for Play (LAP), Local Equipped Area for Play (LEAP) and Neighbourhood Equipped Area for Play (NEAP), as set out in Table 8.1.
8.28 There is under provision across all three sub-categories in the Borough. In relation to LAPs, in an area such as Brentwood, where minimum private garden areas are often 100 sq. m, it is considered that this form of provision may be suitably provided in this manner. Small public play areas can, in reality, be a source of nuisance to adjoining residents and be unpopular. However, the provision of further LAPs may be appropriate in higher density flat and terraced areas (including, potentially, through more innovative means such as “Home Zones”).
Table 8.1: Children’s Playing Spaces
8.29 An assessment of the provision of larger play areas (LEAPs and NEAPs) has been undertaken. Whilst in terms of the NPFA standards there is an under provision across the Borough, the distribution of sites provides most areas with reasonable access to a site. The main areas lacking accessibility to play facilities (i.e. more than 400m from a LEAP and 1000m from a NEAP) are parts of central Brentwood, Shenfield and central Hutton, Ingrave and Herongate (south), Navestock and part of central Ingatestone. However an analysis of the qualitive aspects of existing site provision show only a minority of sites meeting the NPFA standards.
8.30 This under provision may, in the short term, be worsened by existing problems of lack of funds for refurbishment, compounded by problems of maintenance and vandalism. The Council is currently assessing these issues and may be forced to consider closing existing sites until the problems can be overcome.
8.31 The Council is, therefore, concerned to achieve improvements to existing and additional provision. The Council will continue to require residential development proposals to provide for the open space requirements reasonably required as a consequence of the increase population and explore other opportunities for open areas to be made accessible to the public, particularly in areas identified as deficient in open space. The proposed development of the Transco site on Wharf Road, for example, will provide an opportunity for extending the provision of public open space, including play space, in this area.
8.32 The Council will also continue to expand, wherever possible, the joint use of educational facilities during the times when they are not required by the schools.
IN AREAS DEFICIENT IN OPEN SPACE FACILITIES THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO ACHIEVE ADDITIONAL PROVISION THROUGH, INTER ALIA, ACQUISITION OF LAND, JOINT USE OF EXISTING FACILITIES AND DEDICATION OF EXISTING PRIVATE OPEN SPACE FOR PUBLIC USE BY NEGOTIATION WITH LANDOWNERS.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Provision of Open Space arising from New Developments
8.33 In proposals for new residential developments, the Council will normally require provision and/or a contribution towards public open space and play areas for small children. Appendix 5 sets out the requirements for such provision and contributions. The proportion of any site to be set aside (or the contribution to be made for off-site provision) will be assessed with regard to the extent, nature and accessibility of existing provision, the suitability of the site and the form of the proposed development. Where it is accepted that on site provision would be inappropriate, a commuted payment will be expected for provision in a more appropriate location (more accessible or otherwise more sustainable) either through the enhancement of existing open space or through the provision of a new site. On larger housing areas, the Council will normally require at least 15% of the site to be set aside for public open space. In areas deficient in open space the Council will wish to maximise the amount of open space that could be reasonably required in a development. In addition, in developments where private open space is limited, greater emphasis will be put upon the provision of public open space. In new development providing specialised accommodation for the elderly such as sheltered housing, the Council will only require the provision of private amenity space as part of the scheme.
8.34 Where open space is provided as part of a development proposal the Council will also expect the developer to make a contribution to the laying out and provision of play equipment and to its future maintenance.
PROPOSALS FOR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OR REDEVELOPMENT, SHALL MAKE PROVISION FOR PUBLIC OPEN SPACE THAT IS MADE NECESSARY BY AND IS FAIR AND REASONABLY RELATED TO THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT. SUCH PROVISION SHOULD BE MADE ON SITE UNLESS THE PAYMENT OF A COMMUTED SUM FOR PROVISION TO BE MADE IN A MORE APPROPRIATE LOCATION IS CONSIDERED ACCEPTABLE, AS SET OUT IN APPENDIX 5.
THE PROPORTION OF THE SITE AREA TO BE SET ASIDE FOR PUBLIC OPEN SPACE WILL BE ASSESSED WITH REGARD TO THE GUIDELINES SET OUT IN APPENDIX 5, TO IDENTIFIED LOCAL NEEDS AND THE SUITABILITY OF THE SITE IN TERMS OF SIZE, LOCATION AND CHARACTER AND THE FORM OF THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT.
ALL OPEN SPACE SHOULD BE LAID OUT AND EQUIPPED, AS APPROPRIATE, AT THE DEVELOPER’S EXPENSE AND, WHERE PRINCIPALLY OF BENEFIT TO THE DEVELOPMENT ITSELF, DEDICATED TO THE COUNCIL WITH A FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TO ONGOING MAINTENANCE
See also Appendix 5.
Displacement of Open Space
8.35 Development of existing open space sometimes may be sought, by attempting to justify its replacement elsewhere. Open space should, however, be located close to the residential areas it is intended to serve. This, coupled with existing deficiencies in open space provision, dictates that such displacements of open land uses into the green belt will not be acceptable.
DISPLACEMENT OF OPEN LAND USES FROM WITHIN BUILT-UP AREAS INTO THE GREEN BELT TO PROVIDE FOR FURTHER BUILDING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED.
Formal Outdoor Recreation Facilities
8.36 Formal private and publicly owned facilities for active recreation, such as golf courses, sports pitches, horse riding establishments, etc., provide important recreational opportunities not only for local residents but also for people from neighbouring districts where there may be a shortfall of such provision. Wherever possible, encouragement will be given to outdoor recreation being provided as close as possible to the population it serves. The nature and land requirements of such activities often require them to be located in the Borough’s green belt and Policies GB22-GB25 provide the criteria against which such proposals will be judged.
INDOOR RECREATION, LEISURE, CULTURAL AND OTHER COMMUNITY FACILITIES
The Brentwood Centre
8.37 The ideal distribution of recreation and leisure facilities is considered to be a large centrally situated centre supported by a number of smaller facilities catering for local requirements. The Brentwood Centre serves the central function for the Borough. Although not in the town centre, it is located close to the main area of population and provides for a wide range of sport, leisure and cultural activities. It provides a large sports hall, enabling multi-functional use for sports or events such as concerts, major competitions or exhibitions, and the Borough’s public swimming pool facilities. In addition there are squash and tennis courts, weight training facilities, a health suite, bar and restaurant.
8.38 The extensive open areas attached to the built complex include a football arena, which is intended as the first step in the provision of facilities for a wider range of activities.
8.39 Whilst the sequential test set out in PPS6 states that the preferred preference for additional leisure facilities should be the town centre, it does allow that wherever there is a clearly defined need for major travel-generating uses that cannot be accommodated in or on the edge of an existing centre, it may be appropriate to combine them with existing out-of centre developments linked to improvements to public transport accessibility. The compact and restricted nature of Brentwood Town Centre and the significant leisure facilities already provided at the Brentwood Centre justify, it is considered, further developments, which are needed, to be located at the Brentwood Centre.
8.40 Various additional facilities have been considered for extending and improving the sport and leisure provision at the Brentwood centre, but implementation will be dependent on both planning permission and funding. Siting further uses at the Brentwood Centre would have the considerable advantage of being linked to an existing facility with the possibility of shared resources while not eroding too significantly the public open space facility that the site provides.
8.41 Although the Brentwood Centre is located within the Green Belt, the Council recognises that it has served an important local and Borough-wide recreation function for many years. Its location has also to be balanced against the desire to provide a wide range of leisure facilities at a high standard for the local population. This is not only functionally easier and better for the user but also more economical if such facilities are concentrated on one site rather than dispersed throughout the Borough. Development is also more “sustainable” if provided on a single site because of “multi-purpose” trips and the viability of providing, in the longer term, public transport and improved cycle/pedestrian facilities to the site.
8.42 In considering major proposals for extending the Brentwood Centre, traffic generation and impact on the transport network will need to be taken into account as will access and parking arrangements. To this end, where appropriate, development proposals will need to be the subject of a Transport Assessment and include a Green Travel Plan. The design of any extensions will need to be carefully considered along with appropriate landscaping to reflect its Green Belt location. Proposals will need to have regard to the principles set out in Appendix 2.
ANY EXTENSIONS TO THE BRENTWOOD CENTRE FOR RECREATIONAL/LEISURE FACILITIES WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA BEING SATISFIED: -
i) ADDITIONAL AND APPROPRIATE LANDSCAPING BEING PROVIDED
ii) PROPOSALS MUST TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE PROVISIONS OF GB2
See also Appendix 2.
Provision of Small Scale, Local Recreation, Leisure, Cultural and Entertainment Facilities
8.43 The Brentwood Centre is supplemented by a variety of other public sports, leisure and community facilities located within Brentwood Town Centre (e.g. the Brentwood Theatre, Old House and the Hermit Club) and elsewhere throughout the Borough (e.g. Hutton Poplars Hall, Keys Hall, Tipps Cross Remembrance Hall and Bishops Hall Community Centre). These buildings provide both formal purpose-built sport and entertainment facilities and other more informal multi-use facilities.
8.44 A number of schools in the Borough also make their recreation facilities available to the public, particularly the Shenfield Sports Centre, which offers a good range of sports facilities through joint use arrangements with Shenfield High School. Whilst such joint use is naturally restricted in terms of the times when public access can be gained, the Council is looking to extend such arrangements with the Education Authority.
8.45 At a local level community, village and church halls are also well used for a number of social and cultural uses as well as providing meeting rooms and other accommodation for a variety of local organisations such as play groups, sports clubs and societies, although their use for sports tends to be limited by reason of their size.
8.46 The range and quality of sports and recreation facilities is also enhanced by private sports clubs and facilities, although some of these are restricted to club members. The most significant of these are perhaps the Brentwood Leisure Park in Warley, Dragons Health Club, Warley and the Clearview Health and Racquet Club, south of the A127.
8.47 Expansion of any existing local facilities or the location of additional small-scale leisure facilities needs to be considered carefully. In order to maximise accessibility, particularly by more sustainable forms of transport, additional recreation, leisure and cultural facilities, particularly those attracting high levels of usage, will be directed towards Brentwood town centre (see Policy TC18) or other central locations. Inevitably such facilities can generate considerable traffic and other activity and, whilst they should be accessible to the people wishing to use them, such development should not result in adverse effects on nearby residents. Elsewhere, therefore, any new small-scale, local facilities will need to be considered in terms of their impact on the transport network, residential and visual amenities, and be accessible by public transport, cycle and foot.
PROVISION OF ADDITIONAL SMALL SCALE, LOCAL CULTURAL, ENTERTAINMENT AND/OR LEISURE FACILITIES OUTSIDE THE TOWN CENTRE INSET AREA WILL BE ALLOWED SUBJECT TO THE DEVELOPMENT BEING EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY FOOT, CYCLE AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT.
Use of Redundant Institutional, Recreational and Community Buildings
8.48 In a Green Belt Borough such as Brentwood the availability of development land is strictly limited. Institutional buildings such as schools, hospitals, and residential homes, or recreational, leisure and community buildings are often of considerable size and set within extensive grounds. Once lost, such uses would be difficult to replace within the urban area because of high land values and pressure for residential and commercial development, and are inappropriate in the Green Belt.
8.49 Therefore, whilst recognising that such buildings can become surplus to requirements or no longer viable, and that owners will be seeking maximum value from their disposal, unless the site has been identified as a major housing site, the Council will seek to retain such buildings for alternative community use i.e. community halls, health facilities, educational facilities, religious buildings etc and only where such needs are met, for local housing needs. It is recognised, however, that some buildings may have particular economic constraints on conversion or re-use that may necessitate a commercial use. Where the building itself is worthy of retention, although not necessarily listed, and it is located within an accessible and otherwise sustainable location, a wider range of new uses may be considered.
OTHER THAN THOSE SITES IDENTIFIED AS MAJOR HOUSING SITES ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, PERMISSION FOR THE CHANGE OF USE OR REDEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS OR BUILDINGS OF A SIMILAR INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTER, OR EXISTING RECREATIONAL, CULTURAL, LEISURE OR OTHER COMMUNITY FACILITIES, SHALL ONLY BE GRANTED WHERE THE PROPOSED USE ADDRESSES LOCAL COMMUNITY NEEDS AND, WHERE THESE NEEDS ARE MET OR WHERE THE EXISTING COMMUNITY USE CAN BE SUITABLY ADEQUATELY RELOCATED ON AN APPROPRIATE ALTERNATIVE SITE, HOUSING NEEDS.
WHERE THE BUILDING IS WORTHY OF RETENTION, AND IS SITUATED IN A SUSTAINABLE LOCATION, OTHER USES MAY BE CONSIDERED.
ANY PROPOSALS MUST COMPLY WITH THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN POLICY LT10
Highwood Hospital Site
8.50 A number of existing institutional sites are known to be redundant for their existing purpose or will be declared to be during the plan period and have been specifically allocated for residential development, including the provision of affordable housing. One of the sites that is likely to be declared redundant, certainly in part, is the Highwood Hospital site. It is understood that some medical facilities will continue to be provided on this site, and this is to be encouraged and supported. However, the larger part of the site is considered suitable for re-use for residential purposes, although the opportunity should also be taken for assessing the need for additional local community facilities that could be provided on this site.
8.51 The hospital site was recently designated as a conservation area, a reflection of its original use and the particularly attractive layout of buildings and open spaces. Any re-use should retain those buildings and spaces of value, whilst replacement of other buildings or new buildings will need to be undertaken in a manner sensitive to the site’s conservation area designation.
LT9 Highwood Hospital Site
THE SITE OF THE ORIGINAL HIGHWOOD HOSPITAL IS ALLOCATED FOR A MIXED USE COMPRISING MEDICAL, COMMUNITY AND RESIDENTIAL USES. ANY DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS WILL NEED TO RESPECT THE SITE’S CONSERVATION AREA DESIGNATION, RETAINING THOSE BUILDINGS AND SPACES OF VALUE.
Changes of Use or New Buildings for Institutional Purposes
8.52 By their nature institutional uses can generate considerable traffic and other activity. The siting of such a facility, therefore, needs to be carefully considered in terms of traffic generation and other impacts on the transport network, parking requirements (see Appendix 2) and its impact on neighbouring properties. Any site should be easily accessible, particularly by public transport, walking and cycling. The residents or users of such buildings, whether they be elderly or infirm, students or patients and their visitors, may benefit from them being located close to other social or community facilities (e.g. shops, post office, medical facilities, and community halls).
8.53 As with other development or changes of use, there should be no loss of any existing residential accommodation.
PROPOSALS INVOLVING THE CHANGE OF USE TO OR NEW BUILDINGS FOR INSTITUTIONAL PURPOSES WITHIN THE BUILT-UP AREA WILL BE PERMITTED ONLY WHERE BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET:
i) THE PROPOSAL IS IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO APPROPRIATE SOCIAL FACILITIES
ii) THE SITE IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT, WALKING AND CYCLING.
See also Appendix 2.
Retention of Existing Local Community Facilities
8.54 There has been increasing public concern with the loss of small local community facilities and services as a result of redevelopment proposals. Facilities such as local shops, public houses, and community halls often provide essential local services and leisure/social facilities that are easily accessible, especially by foot or cycle; particularly important for the elderly or those without the use of a private car. The provision of such facilities within residential neighbourhoods and smaller rural settlements help to create sustainable communities, reduce the need for journeys by car, promote social inclusion and enhance social interaction leading to safer, friendlier and more cohesive communities. Every effort, therefore, shall be made to retain such uses, and any proposed re-use will be critically assessed.
THE CHANGE OF USE OR REDEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL SERVICES, INCLUDING SHOPS, PUBLIC HOUSES, COMMUNITY HALLS, PETROL FILLING STATIONS, AND MEDICAL FACILITIES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS IT CAN BE CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED THAT THE USE IS NOT VIABLE AND THAT THERE IS NO INTEREST FROM AN ALTERNATIVE SIMILAR COMMUNITY USE OR IT IS TO BE REPLACED BY MORE SUITABLE FACILITIES ELSEWHERE WITHIN THE LOCAL AREA.
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
Changes of Use from Residential to Medical Use
8.55 The most recent advice from the local Primary Care Trust indicates that generally the Borough is adequately provided with general practitioner (GP) and dental services. The one area identified as having pressure for additional GP facilities is Warley, where the existing Avenue Road surgery is under pressure from increasing patient numbers, but constrained for GP accommodation. This is an issue that the Council is discussing with the Trust and local surgery, and may be resolved by relocating the practice, possibly onto the Warley Hospital site.
8.56 In addition to doctors and dentists, there may be a need for accommodation for other medical facilities such as opticians, chiropodists, alternative medicines, etc.
8.57 Medical facilities should be located in or adjacent to central or other locations, where they benefit from better accessibility by public transport, walking and cycling, public car parking, proximity to associated facilities (e.g. pharmacies), and opportunities for multi-purpose trips (see also Policy TC19).
8.58 Any future proposals for medical facilities involving the loss of a residential unit will not be permitted. In addition, applications for purpose-built medical facilities or change of use to medical use will need to consider access arrangements, travel demand and impact on the amenities of nearby residents.
PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS FOR OR CHANGES OF USE TO PRIMARY AND COMMUNITY BASED HEALTHCARE USE (SURGERIES, DENTISTS, CHIROPODISTS, PHYSIOTHERAPISTS AND SIMILAR MEDICAL/HEALTH USES) WILL BE PERMITTED ONLY WHERE THE PROPOSAL IS LOCATED WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO A DISTRICT OR LOCAL CENTRE WHICH IS ACCESSIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT, WALKING AND CYCLING.
PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY NETWORK
Footpaths and Cycleways in New Developments
8.59 Brentwood Borough has an extensive network of well-used footpaths and bridleways that are regarded as a recreational asset. In order to make full use of their potential and provide both the casual and serious walker and cyclist with access to the countryside and community facilities within the urban areas, it is important to link residential areas with the existing right of way network and, where practicable, create new pedestrian routes and cycleways to nearby facilities. Such principles have been an implicit part of the design and layout of recent new residential development at Clements Park and elsewhere. In all future proposals for new development the Council will expect the provision of such pedestrian and cycle links, which should be well designed with safety and security in mind as well as convenient and direct and accessible to all, including the disabled.
WHERE APPROPRIATE, FOOTPATHS AND CYCLEWAYS SHOULD BE PROVIDED IN ANY NEW DEVELOPMENT TO LINK INTO THE EXISTING RIGHT OF WAY NETWORK AND TO AFFORD SAFE, APPROPRIATELY LIT AND CONVENIENT PEDESTRIAN/CYCLIST ACCESS TO NEARBY FACILITIES. ANY FOOTPATHS SO PROVIDED SHOULD BE FULLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE DISABLED.
Policy GB27 also applies.
8.60 The Local Transport Plan and more specifically the Council’s Cycling Strategy are seeking to encourage improved facilities for cyclists.
8.61 Cycling is popular both as an informal recreational activity and as a cheap as well as "environmentally friendly" mode of transport. Many of the rural lanes can be used by cyclists without encountering too many vehicles and the possibility of developing cycle routes utilising the quieter country lanes of the Borough will be considered further (see Policy T14 and “Quiet Lanes”). These lanes may also have the potential for developing horse riding and pedestrian routes.
8.62 Many potential cyclists are deterred from using the principal and secondary road network linking residential areas with the countryside, because of the dangers from traffic. The existing structure of the urban environment does, however, make it difficult to accommodate cycle routes but the possibility of developing segregated and shared cycle routes linking residential areas with other facilities (e.g. the Brentwood Centre), as well as giving access to the rural areas of the Borough will be developed further through the Cycling Strategy and the interests of cyclists will be emphasised in new development proposals and traffic management schemes.
8.63 Within the southern part of the Borough the Council will continue to work in partnership with the Thames Chase Project Team to develop the network of “Greenways”, providing recreational links for those on foot, bicycle or horse through the Community Forest area and linking to public rights of way network beyond.
THE COUNCIL WILL DEVELOP A NETWORK OF RECREATIONAL ROUTES THROUGHOUT THE BOROUGH, WHICH WILL AFFORD SAFE, AND ACCESSIBLE LINKS FOR THOSE ON FOOT, CYCLE AND HORSE.
See also Policy GB27
A Target and Indicator for monitoring this policy is set out in Chapter 13.
8.64 Brentwood is only 30 minutes train journey from London and has good road/rail links with the Channel and East Coast ports and airports at Southend, Stansted, City, Gatwick and Heathrow. The comparatively high cost of hotel accommodation in the capital makes the Borough an attractive location for holiday visitors.
8.65 In recent years Brentwood has experienced a significant increase in commercial and office floor space. With many leading companies represented within the Borough, such as Ford and British Telecom, with European and other international connections, there is a continuing demand for conference facilities as well as business accommodation.
8.66 Brentwood also has much to offer in the way of local attractions and facilities. The Brentwood Centre has become a nationally known venue for sports, concerts, conferences and other forms of entertainment, and has recently become the home venue for the London Leopards National Basketball Team. The Clearview Tennis Centre is being privately developed as a major tennis-training venue. There are two country parks and a number of internationally laid out golf courses (indeed Brentwood boasts the longest par 5 hole in the world!). The extensive footpath network and the historic interest represented by the many hundreds of buildings listed as being of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and conservation areas gives rise to more informal leisure and tourist interest.
8.67 The Borough needs, therefore, to be able to cater for the demands of holidaymakers and business tourists, who wish to stay overnight as well as casual visitors. Tourist accommodation is a source of local employment with economic benefits for related services such as shopping and places to eat.
Hotel Accommodation in the Urban Area
8.68 Over the last 10 years there has been a significant increase in the provision of hotel accommodation within the Borough, responding to an under supply identified in the previously adopted Local Plan. Most of the local hotels have, during that period, extended their accommodation and, in some cases, other facilities (see Table 8.2). There are also outstanding planning permissions for a 150-bed hotel on the site of the existing car breakers yard and café at the Mountnessing Roundabout on the A12 and a 43-bed hotel at the Halfway House on the A127.
8.69 Whilst occupancy rates continue to be high, indicating further pressure for additional accommodation, particularly in the budget end of the market, it is now considered that the supply of accommodation meets the Borough’s needs to the extent that it is no longer considered to justify the flexible attitude to new hotel accommodation in the green belt previously adopted by the Council.
Table 8.2: Hotel Accommodation in Brentwood
8.70 Any further demand for hotel accommodation should be directed towards existing or new sites within the urban areas. New hotels may be permitted subject to a number of criteria including the impact on the transport network and on the neighbourhood and residents’ amenities. Redevelopment or change of use to a hotel will not be allowed if it would result in the loss of existing residential units or an essential community facility or service.
PROPOSALS FOR NEW HOTELS, MOTELS OR GUEST HOUSES OR EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING PREMISES WILL BE ALLOWED WITHIN THE URBAN AREA OF BRENTWOOD AND OTHER DEFINED SETTLEMENTS SUBJECT TO BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA BEING SATISFIED: -
i) THEY DO NOT RESULT IN THE LOSS OF AN ESSENTIAL COMMUNITY FACILITY OR SERVICE
ii) THE SITE IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Bed and Breakfast and Self-Catering Accommodation
8.71 Visitors should be able to choose from a range of overnight accommodation types, and particularly in terms of economy. Bed and Breakfast and self-catering accommodation could go some way to meeting this demand.
8.72 The Council is aware of 16 addresses where bed and breakfast is provided (a total of 49 rooms), generally in private homes and consisting of small-scale facilities with up to 3 rooms available. These are located primarily within the urban area.
8.73 Planning permission has been granted for 2 units of self-catering accommodation at the Leather Bottle P.H. in Blackmore and there may be limited opportunities for the development of further self-catering accommodation in the town or smaller settlements.
8.74 In 1996, 13 units of self-catering accommodation were granted planning permission at the Weald Park Golf Club through the conversion and re-use of existing buildings. In the green belt such development is inappropriate where it requires new buildings. However, the change of use of existing buildings in the green belt for self-catering accommodation may be acceptable, subject to strict criteria (see Policy GB15).
WITHIN THE URBAN AREA OF BRENTWOOD AND OTHER DEFINED SETTLEMENTS PROPOSALS FOR BED & BREAKFAST AND SELF CATERING ACCOMMODATION MAY BE PERMITTED WHERE THE NUMBER OF PROPERTIES WHICH ARE ALREADY IN USE FOR BED & BREAKFAST AND SELF CATERING ACCOMMODATION OR FOR WHICH PLANNING PERMISSION HAS ALREADY BEEN GIVEN DOES NOT GIVE RISE TO AN OVER CONCENTRATION OF SUCH USES WITHIN A PARTICULAR STREET OR AREA
See also Appendix 2.
Roadside Service Facilities
8.75 Within Brentwood Borough, the key locations for the provision of roadside service facilities are (on the A127) at the Halfway House and (on the A12) at Brook Street, where there is a petrol filling station and restaurant, and at the Mountnessing roundabout (southern side), where there is an existing petrol filling station and restaurant.
8.76 As previously mentioned there is an outstanding planning permission for a hotel on the northern side of the Mountnessing roundabout, and this includes a restaurant. These facilities, together with the proximity of comprehensive service facilities on the A12 at Boreham, north-east of Chelmsford, and on the M25 at Thurrock and South Mimms, has led the Council to the view that there is no justification for any further roadside service facilities in the Borough, which would, of necessity, require a green field site in the Green Belt.
Transit and Other Picnic Sites
8.77 Picnic sites are a recognised tourist facility providing a rest site for those travelling longer distances and catering for the informal needs of walkers and cyclists. Such facilities may, therefore, help to promote more healthy leisure activities.
8.78 However, there are no places to stop for a picnic for travellers passing through Brentwood on the primary road network other than lay-bys. The Council will allow transit picnic sites in suitable locations. The Borough also lacks designated picnic sites in the countryside other than informal facilities in Weald and Thorndon Country Parks. Providing they do not conflict with countryside conservation or give rise to a loss of amenity, additional sites will be looked upon favourably, particularly where associated with other recreational facilities.
SMALL PICNIC SITES MAY BE PERMITTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE RECREATIONAL USE OF FORMAL AND INFORMAL OPEN SPACE AND AT APPROPRIATE LOCATIONS ALONG THE FOOTPATH NETWORK
TRANSIT PICNIC SITES MAY BE PERMITTED IN SUITABLE LOCATIONS ON OR NEAR MAJOR ROADS.
ANY PROPOSAL MUST TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE PROVISIONS OF GB22
8.79 There are no static holiday caravan sites within the Borough. Several sites, however, are used by caravanning and camping clubs as well as scouting and other organisations.
8.80 Although there is comparatively little known demand within the Borough for such facilities there is some potential for the establishment of additional sites. It is considered that, in principle, touring sites are acceptable uses in the green belt subject to the criteria set out in Policy LT18 below, which applies solely to the stationing of caravans/tents on a short-stay basis and appropriate conditions will be imposed to ensure this.
8.81 Any proposal submitted should indicate the adequate provision of sanitation arrangements and take account of the provisions of Policy GB2.
NEW SMALL-SCALE TOURING CARAVAN AND/OR CAMPING SITES MAY BE PERMITTED IN SUITABLE LOCATIONS WHERE ALL THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA ARE MET: -
i) THE PROPOSAL WOULD PRESERVE THE OPENNESS OF THE GREEN BELT
ii) THE PROPOSAL WOULD NOT HAVE AN UNACCEPTABLE DETRIMENTAL IMPACT ON A SITE OF NATURE CONSERVATION VALUE
iii) IT WOULD NOT RESULT IN THE PERMANENT LOSS OF THE BEST OR MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND IN ACCORDANCE WITH POLICY IR3
iv) ANY ANCILLARY FACILITIES REQUIRED CAN BE PROVIDED BY WAY OF THE RE-USE OF EXISTING BUILDINGS ON THE SITE OR WHERE ANY NEW BUILDINGS WOULD REPLACE EXISTING STRUCTURES
v) THE SITE IS WELL SCREENED
See also Policy GB2.
ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY
8.82 The Council considers it as an important function of this Plan to provide a policy framework that pays full regard to the needs of people with a disability in the planning of the environment. Equality of opportunity and the reduction of all forms of social exclusion are important social aspects of sustainable development. Government statistics estimate that around one household in seven in Great Britain includes someone who is disabled in one or more ways. Over 2% of the population are confined to a wheelchair. In Brentwood it is estimated that some 4000-5000 people are physically disabled in addition to others with disabilities such as sensory impairments, walking difficulties, etc. Such disabilities make it difficult to use an environment primarily designed for the able bodied and those in good health. Indeed in many cases lack of appropriate access effectively bars disabled people from using facilities most people take for granted e.g. visiting shops, banks, leisure facilities or even just friends.
8.83 An accessible environment not only enables people with a disability to participate in normal activities, it also benefits the public as a whole, for example parents with prams, the elderly, people carrying heavy shopping, etc. It an important objective of sustainable development to promote equal opportunities and social inclusion.
Accessibility to Premises to which the Public are Admitted and to Employment Generating Developments
8.84 It is the duty of the Council and developers to ensure proper provision people with a disability, particularly for buildings to which the public are admitted. The requirements of disabled people are generally controlled under the building regulations. However, under the terms Circular 10/82 “Disabled Persons Act 1981” the Council can condition a planning permission to make appropriate provision for disabled persons, or indeed can refuse permission where essential provision has not been made. It is important therefore to consider the needs of people with a disability early on in the design process and applicants are encouraged to consult the Planning Authority on appropriate provision.
8.85 Guidelines to access provision are given in Appendix 4 and attention is also drawn to BS 8300:2001 and various design guidance notes published by the Centre on Environment for the Handicapped and the Access Committee for England. Proposals will need to have regard to accessible parking space standards set out in Appendix 2.
8.86 A change of use of a building frequently requires work to be undertaken to suit the requirements of the new user. This clearly is an appropriate time to incorporate modifications to make the premises accessible to disabled persons. In proposals for a change of use to premises to which the public are to be admitted, the Council will expect appropriate access arrangements to be made.
7.87 Shops, offices and factory premises are treated as public buildings to which Policy LT19 will apply. In addition, the Disabilities Discrimination Act requires all employers other than the Armed Forces to provide reasonable facilities for their disabled employees. In considering planning applications for employment generating developments the Council will expect appropriate access and sanitary accommodation arrangements to be made not only to public reception areas but also to working areas.
PROPOSALS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF, EXTENSION TO, OR CHANGE OF USE, TO PREMISES TO WHICH THE PUBLIC ARE ADMITTED, (E.G. OFFICES, SHOPS, COMMUNITY BUILDINGS, ETC.) WILL BE EXPECTED TO INCLUDE PROPER EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS AND TOILET FACILITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY, INCLUDING MARKED CAR PARKING SPACES. FURTHERMORE, THE COUNCIL WILL EXPECT ALL EMPLOYMENT GENERATING DEVELOPMENTS TO MAKE SUCH PROVISION FOR PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY (BOTH EMPLOYEES AND VISITORS). REGARD SHOULD BE HAD TO THE STANDARDS SET OUT IN APPENDICES 2 AND 4.
Note: Where a building is being extended, the number of accessible parking spaces will be calculated in relation to the total number of parking spaces for the building as a whole, not just the extension. See also Appendix 2.
8.88 The internal layout of dwellings lies outside the sphere of planning control. However, the Council is concerned to extend the range of housing opportunities available to disabled people and others with mobility difficulties.
8.89 As referred to earlier in Para. 8.82, it is estimated that one in fourteen persons in the Borough is physically disabled in addition to others with disabilities such as sensory impairments, walking difficulties etc. 19.4% of the population is over retirement age with 7.5% over 75 years (source: Office for National Statistics: Resident Population Estimates Mid-2000). The likelihood of suffering some form of disability increases with age and Brentwood's population is an ageing one with the proportion of elderly people expected to continue to rise. Many individuals will also suffer some form of temporary incapacity at some time in their lives. The Council wish to ensure that adequate and appropriate housing provision is made for all and, therefore, encourages the development of accommodation to “Lifetime Homes” standards (see Policy H16) and Appendix 4.