Chapter 5 - Recreation, Leisure and Community
   
BACKGROUND
OBJECTIVES
 
Policies and Proposals:
DESIGNING FOR SPECIAL NEEDS
OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATION
PLAYING FIELDS
ACCESS FOR INFORMAL RECREATION
RECREATION DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
GOLF DEVELOPMENT
ALLOTMENTS
SPORTS, RECREATION AND LEISURE DEVELOPMENT
COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND SERVICES
   
   
 
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BACKGROUND
5.1 The provision of a wide range of opportunities for recreation and leisure enhances people’s quality of life and improves the image of the locality, whilst community life can be nurtured and sustained by the provision of appropriate facilities and services.
5.2 Sport and recreation are important components in the life of a community, and are also major land uses. The Northern Council for Sport and Recreation’s ‘Priorities for Progress’ provides the regional strategy for the development of sport and recreation facilities. The planning system is expected to ensure that sufficient land and water resources are available to meet the needs of the community for organised sport and informal recreation; development plans have a key role to play in allocating adequate areas of land and safeguarding open space with recreation value. Planning Policy Guidance Note 17, ‘Sport and Recreation’, sets out the Government’s guidance on the role of development plans. Local planning authorities have a responsibility to take account of the community’s needs for recreation space in determining planning applications, to assess current provision and requirements, and to resist the development of open space if it would conflict with the wider public interest. This responsibility should be exercised in relation to all types of open space which have public value, and not only those areas laid out or used as public open space. Sport and recreation can bring economic benefits, helping to attract investment and jobs and providing significant inputs into the local economy.
5.3 This chapter is concerned with the recreation and leisure needs of the Borough’s residents, ranging from organised indoor and outdoor sports, informal recreation activities (such as walking and enjoyment of the countryside), to arts and entertainment based leisure pursuits, whether as participant or audience. It is also concerned with residents’ needs for community services and facilities and with ensuring that the special needs of various people within the community are taken into account in development proposals. The Tourism chapter deals with the needs of visitors to the Borough, though clearly there is overlap between these areas. The Dolphin Centre, for example, provides sports, recreation and leisure facilities for both residents and visitors.
5.4 The Plan’s focus is on providing and safeguarding open space in amounts, locations and forms suited to the sporting, recreation and play needs of all residents. This chapter is concerned with open space as a land use, and complements the Environment policies in Chapter 3 which focus on the amenity value of open space. The Plan also focuses on access for informal recreation to the countryside and to open land in the urban area. The scope and content of the recreation policies reflect the overriding need to protect and enhance environmental quality. The Plan also refers to the provision of particular sports facilities for which there is a perceived need, and to safeguarding Darlington’s role as a sub-regional centre for sports, recreation and leisure provision.
   
 
OBJECTIVES
5.5 The Council’s objectives for recreation, leisure and community, to be pursued through the policies and proposals of the Plan, are:
  i) To meet the needs of all residents for recreation and community facilities;
  ii) To continue to promote and develop Darlington’s role as a sub-regional centre for recreation and leisure provision;
  iii) To protect and improve existing facilities;
  iv) To identify and respond to shortfalls in provision in relation to perceived local needs;
  v) To create a safe and attractive environment for all members of the community;
  vi) To ensure that the needs of children, the elderly and people with disabilities are satisfied;
  vii) To improve access to the countryside for informal recreation; and
  viii) To ensure that the environmental impact of recreation, leisure and community provision is sustainable.
     
 
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Policies and Proposals:
 
DESIGNING FOR SPECIAL NEEDS
   
 
POLICY R1 - Designing For All
  THE DESIGN AND LAYOUT OF NEW DEVELOPMENT WILL BE REQUIRED, WHERE APPLICABLE AND HAVING REGARD TO THE SCALE, LOCATION AND PROPOSED USE OF THE DEVELOPMENT, TO MAKE PROVISION TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY, INCLUDING CHILDREN, THE ELDERLY, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND PEOPLE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN.
     
5.6 General design requirements for the appearance and landscaping of new development, and relating to other aspects of the impact of development on the environment, are set out in the Environment chapter of the Plan. However, the quality of the environment is also measured by its ‘user friendliness’. It is essential that the public environment is accessible and usable by all members of the community, and that no-one is disadvantaged because of the lack of appropriate facilities.
   
 
POLICY R2 - Access For People With Disabilities
  PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS OR THE CHANGE OF USE OR ALTERATION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS TO WHICH THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND EMPLOYEES HAVE ACCESS WILL BE REQUIRED, WHERE PRACTICABLE AND REASONABLE, TO PROVIDE SUITABLE ACCESS AND FACILITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH IMPAIRED MOBILITY.
   
5.7 Within its wide-ranging intention to take account of the needs of all members of the community, set out in Policy R1, the Council as local planning authority is specifically required when granting planning permission to draw the attention of applicants to Sections 4 and 7 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. This requires developers of specified types of buildings to provide suitable means of access, parking, and toilet facilities to meet the needs of people with disabilities where practicable and reasonable. The types of building to which the Act applies are buildings open to the public, such as shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment, leisure and community buildings, places of employment, education buildings, and most types of buildings other than residential.
5.8 Access provision should comply with the ‘Code of Practice for Access for the Disabled to Buildings’, British Standards Institution Code of Practice BS 5810; in the case of new buildings, Part M of the Building Regulations will apply.
5.9 There is often perceived to be a conflict between conservation and improving access for people with disabilities, especially in listed buildings. Nevertheless, there will usually be opportunities with sensitive and imaginative design to improve access and facilities for people with disabilities. Whenever alterations are proposed these opportunities should be taken.
   
 
POLICY R3 - Provision of Public Facilities in New Buildings
  THE BOROUGH COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE DEVELOPERS, BY NEGOTIATION, TO PROVIDE CRECHE AND CHILDCARE FACILITIES AND PUBLIC CONVENIENCES WHERE THEY ARE WARRANTED BY THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF NEW OR ADAPTED BUILDINGS TO WHICH THE PUBLIC HAVE ACCESS AS VISITORS OR EMPLOYEES.
     
 
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5.10 As well as providing for people with disabilities, the Council also seeks the provision of toilet facilities for the general public, and breastfeeding and nappy changing facilities, in buildings to which the public will have access, including retail, office and administrative, recreation, leisure and entertainment developments. Whilst such facilities are not a requirement of the Building Regulations, their provision is an important aspect of satisfying the basic needs of the public using such developments.
 
OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATION
 
POLICY R4 - Open Space Provision
  THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO ENSURE THAT PROVISION OF ALL FORMS OF OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATION IN THE URBAN AREA, INCLUDING PARKS, INFORMAL AMENITY OPEN SPACE, PLAYING FIELDS AND CHILDREN’S PLAY AREAS, IS MAINTAINED IN ACCORDANCE WITH AN OVERALL STANDARD OF 3.6ha PER 1,000 POPULATION, BROKEN DOWN AS FOLLOWS:
  MAJOR OPEN SPACE - SERVING A TOWN-WIDE POPULATION
  1. PLAYING PITCHES FOR YOUTH AND ADULT USE 1.6ha
  2. INFORMAL / PASSIVE RECREATION USE 0.8ha
  LOCAL OPEN SPACE - SERVING A NEIGHBOURHOOD POPULATION
  1. CHILDREN’S PLAY - EQUIPPED PLAYGROUNDS 0.2ha
  2. CHILDREN’S PLAY - AREAS FOR ACTIVE GAMES 0.4ha
  3. INFORMAL / PASSIVE RECREATION USE 0.6ha
  IN CONSIDERING THE DISTRIBUTION AND ACCESSIBILITY OF LOCAL OPEN SPACES THE COUNCIL WILL AIM TO ENSURE THAT AN ENTRANCE TO AN OPEN SPACE EQUIPPED FOR CHILDREN’S PLAY LIES WITHIN 400m SAFE WALK OF EVERY DWELLING.
  WITHIN THE VILLAGES THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO ENSURE THAT PROVISION ACCORDS WITH THE LOCAL OPEN SPACE STANDARD.
   
5.11 The standard of 3.6 hectares per thousand population embraces all forms of open space to which the public has access for recreation, together with school and privately-owned sports facilities, which contribute significantly to the provision of playing pitches in the community. Allotments are not included in the above standards.
5.12 Major open spaces are those which are used by people from throughout the town and further afield, and are not related to particular neighbourhoods. The larger parks serve a wide catchment area, and playing pitches for organised sports are provided on a town-wide basis.
5.13 Playing pitches include all forms of outdoor playing pitches, greens, courts, running tracks and training areas. Golf courses, water areas and park pitches used only as informal kickabout areas are excluded from this category. The standard of 1.6ha per thousand population accords with the recommendations of the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA). The Council’s 1992 Playing Pitch Strategy found that this is an appropriate level of provision to meet current needs in Darlington.
5.14 The standard for major open space for informal use reflects existing provision, which is in Council ownership and which the Council intends to retain.
5.15 Local open spaces serve neighbourhoods, and it is important that spaces for children’s play, including equipped playgrounds, and for informal recreation such as walking, are available within 400 metres of all dwellings, without the need to cross a main road or other impeding barrier. The local open space standards reflect NPFA recommendations for children’s play, and are already used by the Council in securing acceptable levels of provision. They therefore form the basis of the specific requirements for provision within residential development set out in Policies R6 and R7.
 
 
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5.16 At present, open space provision meets the overall standard of 3.6ha per thousand population across the urban area, but is unevenly distributed. There is a shortfall in playing pitch provision, reflected in Proposal R10, and areas lacking in local open space, notably in the western part of the urban area. The existing pattern of provision in the villages varies considerably.
5.17 All recreation open space within the urban area is open land and subject to the protection provided by Policy E3. This general protection against unconsidered loss to development is reinforced by Policy R5, in relation to land within school grounds which is currently surplus to educational requirements, and Policy R9 in relation to playing pitches.
   
 
POLICY R5 - Land Surplus to Educational Requirements
  DEVELOPMENT OF LAND WITHIN SCHOOL GROUNDS OR DETACHED SCHOOL PLAYING FIELDS WHICH BECOMES SURPLUS TO CURRENT EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT ITS IMPACT IS ACCEPTABLE WITHIN THE TERMS OF POLICIES E3 AND R9, AND THAT IT CAN BE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE LAND IS NOT NEEDED FOR RECREATIONAL USE BY THE SCHOOL OR THE WIDER COMMUNITY IN THE FUTURE.
   
5.18 Land within school grounds makes a significant contribution of greenery and spaciousness to the amenity of residential areas. Such land is identified as open land to which Policy E3 applies. School grounds also provide playing pitches which are an important component in the overall provision of pitches for the community. Where land is declared surplus to educational requirements it should not automatically be regarded as a development opportunity. Proposals for development will be assessed in accordance with Policies E3 and R9, having regard to the long-term needs of the school and the community.
   
 
POLICY R6 - Open Space Provision in New Residential Development
  NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEN OR MORE DWELLINGS WILL BE REQUIRED TO MAKE PROVISION FOR OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATION, TO MEET THE NEEDS OF THE FUTURE RESIDENTS OF THE DEVELOPMENT, PRO RATA IN ACCORDANCE WITH A MINIMUM STANDARD OF 1.2ha PER 1,000 POPULATION (EQUIVALENT TO 12m2 PER BEDSPACE). THE FORM IN WHICH PROVISION IS MADE WILL BE AS APPROPRIATE TO THE LOCATION AND TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GUIDELINES SET OUT IN POLICY R7.
   
5.19 Developers are expected to make provision of local open space for children’s play and informal recreation to serve the needs of their development. The requirement set out in Policy R6 accords with the local open space element of the overall open space standard set out in Policy R4.
 
 
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5.20 The requirement to make open space provision applies only to developments of ten or more dwellings. Smaller developments cannot support a scale of provision which is of any practical benefit.
5.21 Where open land is to be provided within large scale developments, in accordance with Policy E15, the open space required by Policy R6 will normally be provided within the open land framework, rather than in addition to it.
5.22 Policy R6 establishes a quantitative open space requirement for which all residential development of ten or more dwellings is liable. Policy R7 is concerned with the various ways in which that liability may be discharged as a response to the specific circumstances of each proposal.
   
 
POLICY R7 - The Design of Open Space Provision
  WHERE PROVISION FOR OPEN SPACE FOR RECREATION IS REQUIRED UNDER THE TERMS OF POLICY R6, IT SHOULD COMPRISE OPEN SPACE FOR INFORMAL USE (0.6ha PER 1,000 POPULATION / 6m2 PER BEDSPACE), AREAS FOR CHILDREN’S ACTIVE GAMES (0.4ha / 4m2), AND EQUIPPED CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUNDS (0.2ha / 2m2). THE BALANCE BETWEEN THESE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROVISION MAY BE VARIED HAVING REGARD TO DWELLING SIZE AND TYPE. SMALLER DEVELOPMENTS WHICH CANNOT MAKE EFFECTIVE PROVISION FOR ALL TYPES OF OPEN SPACE SHOULD GIVE PRIORITY TO PROVISION FOR CHILDREN’S PLAY, HAVING REGARD TO DWELLING SIZE AND TYPE. OPEN SPACE MAY BE PROVIDED WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO THE SITE OR, WHERE THERE IS ADEQUATE OPEN SPACE PROVISION IN THE LOCALITY, BY IMPROVEMENTS TO EXISTING FACILITIES, OR THROUGH ANY COMBINATION OF THESE OPTIONS, HAVING REGARD TO SITE LOCATION AND CHARACTERISTICS. WHERE APPROPRIATE, OFF-SITE PROVISION MAY BE MADE BY MEANS OF A CAPITAL PAYMENT TO THE COUNCIL. WHERE THE COUNCIL AND THE DEVELOPER AGREE THAT OFF-SITE PROVISION IS APPROPRIATE, THE DEVELOPER WILL BE REQUIRED TO ENTER INTO FORMAL ARRANGEMENTS TO SECURE THE PROVISION.
   
5.23 New residential development places additional demands on local open space. Policy R7 seeks to ensure that the provision required by Policy R6 is designed to meet the particular needs of the development and of the surrounding locality. The liability for open space provision applies equally to all residential development and Policy R6 provides a measure of (and a means of costing) that liability, but the form which provision takes will be dependant on the type and scale of development and the characteristics of the site and the neighbourhood.
5.24 The breakdown of local open space into its constituent parts, as set out in Policy R7, provides an indicator of the normal balance of provision which is desirable in family housing development. The desired balance may be different in specialised forms of housing development, such as starter homes or elderly persons dwellings, where the emphasis will be on amenity open space and children’s play facilities may not be required.
5.25 The total open space liability for smaller developments will not be sufficient to enable all the local open space elements to be provided at a scale which is of any practical value. Priority should be given to provision for children’s play, where this is appropriate to the type of housing proposed. A development of ten dwellings could support the provision of a small equipped playground suitable for use by younger children. Seventy or more dwellings could support the provision of all the elements at usable scales.
5.26 The form of provision may be influenced by existing open space provision in the locality. The needs of the residents of the development as well as the locality may be best served by improving existing facilities rather than providing additional open space. When assessing existing provision the Council will take account of local open space only. Parks and playing pitches which serve a town-wide population are counted against the major open space standard set out in Policy R4, and they should not be regarded, for the purpose of assessing levels of provision, as doubling up as local open space. Allotments will not be counted as local open space.
   
 
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5.27 A number of locations within the following areas of existing public open space have been set aside by the Council as sites for the provision of children’s play equipment: Parkside; Heron Drive; Whinfield Green Lane; and Hampass, Sadberge. Developers of land in close proximity to these sites may choose to discharge all or some of their open space liability by installing equipment. The key test of such proposals, as with all off-site open space provision, is whether the need for off-site provision arises directly from the development itself. Where children’s play facilities are to be provided, whether on-site, off-site or through a payment to the Borough Council, the provision of play equipment is required.
5.28 The Council will encourage developers to discuss their proposals at the earliest possible stage, to agree a bedspace figure as the basis for measuring open space liability and to consider the most appropriate ways of making provision. Supplementary planning guidance will be prepared by the Council.
   
 
POLICY R8 - Maintenance of Recreation Facilities
  WHERE THE BOROUGH COUNCIL IS ASKED TO ADOPT AREAS OF OPEN SPACE AND PLAY FACILITIES PROVIDED IN ASSOCIATION WITH NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPALLY FOR THE USE OF RESIDENTS OF THE DEVELOPMENT, A CAPITAL SUM WILL BE SOUGHT BY NEGOTIATION WITH THE DEVELOPER TO COVER THE MAINTENANCE OF THE FACILITIES FOR A PERIOD TEN YEARS.
   
5.29 It is accepted that where recreation facilities are provided exclusively or primarily for the benefit of residents of a new housing development, it is reasonable that the costs of maintaining those facilities should be met initially by the developer rather than the local authority. The developer may choose to make private arrangements for maintenance, and if necessary, the Borough Council will seek a formal planning agreement requiring open spaces and play equipment to be retained and maintained to a reasonable standard. If, however, the Council is asked to adopt facilities, a commuted sum will be sought, calculated to cover maintenance costs for ten years.
 
PLAYING FIELDS
 
POLICY R9 - Protection of Playing Pitches
  DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF ANY PLAYING FIELD, PITCH OR COURT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCES APPLIES:
  1. THE DEVELOPMENT IS FOR NEW OR IMPROVED FACILITIES RELATED TO THE USE OF THE PLAYING FIELD;
  2. THE DEVELOPMENT INVOLVES A SMALL PART OF A PLAYING FIELD AND WILL BRING ABOUT THE ENHANCEMENT OF THE REMAINDER AND AN OVERALL IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF THE FACILITY;
  3. ALTERNATIVE PROVISION WILL BE PROVIDED BY THE DEVELOPER; OR
  4. THE COUNCIL’S MONITORING OF PLAYING PITCH PROVISION AGAINST DEMAND FOR FACILITIES INDICATES AN EXCESS OF PLAYING PITCH PROVISION.
  IN THE URBAN AREA THE IMPACT OF DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS WILL ALSO BE ASSESSED WITHIN THE TERMS OF POLICY E3.
   
5.30 The Council’s intention to protect open land in the built-up areas has already been established (Policy E3). Playing fields are identified as open land on the Proposals Map, but they merit specific protection because of their special recreational significance and the development pressures to which they are increasingly vulnerable.
   
 
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5.31 The Council’s Playing Pitch Strategy has found that participation levels in pitch sports are rising and that, at the time of drafting the Plan, the provision of playing pitches is beginning to fall short of demand. This practical finding correlates with the theoretical shortfall measured against the Council’s standard for playing pitch provision, referred to in paragraph 5.16 above. This is compounded by the fact that not all education pitches, which contribute to provision, are available for use by the community. As a result the condition of other Council-owned pitches is deteriorating as they become overplayed. Some 80% of the pitches on which the Strategy’s analysis of provision is based are owned privately or by the Council as education authority. These pitches are available to the community either for hire or through the playing of league fixtures on them.
5.32 Playing fields are often seen as potentially valuable assets by their owners, providing a development opportunity as an alternative to the liability of ongoing maintenance. However, local planning authorities are encouraged to take a long term view of community recreation needs in considering proposals involving the loss of playing fields. The Playing Pitch Strategy has demonstrated that any such loss in Darlington would be a serious blow to sports and recreation provision. Privately-owned sites provide the best playing pitches in the Borough available to the community, and the loss would be qualitative as well as quantitative.
   
 
PROPOSAL R10 - Eastbourne Playing Pitches
  LAND FORMERLY WITHIN THE GROUNDS OF EASTBOURNE SCHOOL WILL BE RESERVED FOR THE PROVISION OF TWO PLAYING PITCHES FOR PUBLIC USE.
   
5.33 At present Council-owned playing fields at Alderman Crooks Park are not used because of the lack of changing facilities. The Playing Pitch Strategy concludes that even if these pitches can be brought back into use at least two more football pitches are required to satisfy current levels of demand. These pitches could be provided on the land declared surplus to educational requirements at Eastbourne School and disposed of in 1993. The land, identified on the Proposals Map, adjoins Hundens Park, so that pitches could be managed in conjunction with the Council’s pitches in the park.
   
 
POLICY R11 - Artificial Turf Playing Pitch
  PROPOSALS TO INSTALL ARTIFICIAL TURF PLAYING SURFACES WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  A. THE SITE IS ACCESSIBLE TO PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS;
  B. TRAFFIC ATTRACTION THROUGH RESIDENTIAL STREETS IS AVOIDED;
  C. THE CAR PARKING STANDARDS PURSUANT TO POLICY T24 SET OUT IN THE ANNEX TO CHAPTER 9 ARE COMPLIED WITH;
  D. NEIGHBOURING OCCUPIERS, AND THE AMENITIES OF ANY RURAL AREA, ARE PROTECTED FROM ADVERSE EFFECTS OF NOISE, OF GENERAL DISTURBANCE, AND OF FLOODLIGHTING; AND
  E. THE SITE IS WELL RELATED TO OTHER SPORTS FACILITIES.
   
5.34 The Playing Pitch Strategy found that the outstanding need in Darlington is for an artificial pitch. The development of hockey, in particular, is constrained by the lack of a pitch, and football could benefit from an artificial surface for practice and five-a-side, taking pressure off grass pitches. Eastbourne School (Proposal R10) and John Dixon Lane (Proposal R21) are possible locations.
   
 
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ACCESS FOR INFORMAL RECREATION
 
POLICY R12 - Access to Open Land and Countryside
  PUBLIC ACCESS TO OPEN LAND AND THE COUNTRYSIDE WILL BE ENCOURAGED BY MAINTAINING AND EXTENDING THE EXISTING NETWORK OF PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY AND OTHER PATHS. RECREATION ROUTES WILL BE CREATED USING PARTS OF THE EXISTING NETWORK TOGETHER WITH NEW LINKS TO IMPROVE ACCESS FROM BUILT-UP AREAS FOR PEDESTRIANS, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, PEDAL CYCLISTS AND / OR HORSE-RIDERS.
   
5.35 Walking is the commonest form of recreation, and the public rights of way network is potentially the Borough’s most important recreation asset. Cyclists and horse-riders also benefit from the network. The Council, as highway authority, is committed to safeguarding and improving rights of way. The Council is also committed to extending informal access opportunities, especially to open land in the urban area.
5.36 Despite the Borough’s network of over 300km of rights of way, the local countryside is under-utilised for recreation. It is probable that many recreation trips to nearby National Parks and other areas of outstanding countryside could be made locally if people were aware of the access opportunities, and it is important that people are able to enjoy peace, space and nature in the vicinity of their own homes. Recreation routes provide clear, well-defined and signed paths with comfortable surfaces, created out of the existing rights of way network, disused railway trackbeds and other informal paths, which can be readily promoted and publicised. The emphasis in creating recreation routes will be on providing opportunities to gain access from the built-up areas into the countryside.
5.37 The Council is making progress in the creation of recreation routes alongside the River Skerne in the urban area and along the Barnard Castle railway trackbed. The extension of the Skerneside path is continuing, and the Council is seeking to ensure that proposals for the construction of the Cross Town Route (Proposal T6.1) will enable recreation use of the Stockton and Darlington Railway trackbed to be safeguarded, and to be extended in association with residential development at Middleton St. George.
5.38 Other recreation route opportunities would use the rights of way network. Much has been done to improve the paths linking Darlington with Hurworth and the Teesdale Way long distance path. Patches Lane and paths in the Skerne valley / Ketton area have also been improved. These areas offer opportunities to build on these improvement works by creating and promoting selected recreation routes. In developing recreation routes using existing rights of way, it is important that the legal rights of all users, including vehicular rights and private as well as public rights, are recognised and accommodated in the improvement and signing of routes.
5.39 The Teesdale Way follows the course of the River Tees, currently utilising existing rights of way. It links with a similar route in the lower Tees valley to create a continuous walking route along the Tees from Teesmouth to Middleton-in-Teesdale. The Council will seek opportunities to improve the route by providing riverside paths along those stretches where existing rights of way are remote from the river, or where the existing route follows roads. Such improvements will only be achieved by negotiation and agreement and are not likely to be brought about in the near future. Within Darlington Borough the stretches where improvements are desirable include Blackwell Bridge to Oxneyfield Bridge; the Rockliffe peninsula; Newbus Cottages to Neasham; and Neasham Hall to Sockburn Lane. The Teesdale Way will be a key recreation resource for local users as well as long distance walkers, and improvement works are currently in hand.
   
 
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5.40 The former Croft railway trackbed and remaining sections of the Barnard Castle trackbed west of the A1(M), could provide very attractive recreation opportunities. Such prospects are long-term, however, because the trackbeds have passed into private ownership and there is no public access to them.
   
 
POLICY R13 - Recreation Routes and New Development
  IN CONSIDERING DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS, THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE REGARD TO THE EXISTENCE OF OPPORTUNITIES TO LINK THEIR ASSOCIATED OPEN SPACE, FOOTPATH AND LANDSCAPE PROVISIONS WITH OTHERS ADJOINING AND, WHERE APPROPRIATE IN THE INTERESTS OF AMENITY, CONVENIENCE OR NATURE CONSERVATION, WILL PROMOTE THE CREATION OF INTERCONNECTING NETWORKS OF SUCH PATHS AND SPACES.
   
5.41 The extension and improvement of the network of open land in the urban area by large scale new development is a requirement of Policy E15. Such provision may also allow for the extension or creation of recreation routes, and for public access to open land for recreation, depending on the location and characteristics of the site, its relationship to existing paths and open land, and open land proposals within the site.
5.42 The design of footpath links within housing developments, particularly between houses and at cul-de-sac heads, can cause security problems or be a source of nuisance to adjoining residents. Such links should be bounded on both sides by areas of public open space, where possible forming an integral part of a comprehensive open space, landscaping and footpath scheme for the whole development. This should take into account Policy E46 (safety and security) which requires developers to take account of security issues in the design of development.
 
RECREATION DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
 
POLICY R14 - Recreation Development in the Countryside
  DEVELOPMENT FOR COUNTRYSIDE-RELATED SPORTS OR RECREATION ACTIVITIES, OR DEVELOPMENT RELATED TO THE QUIET ENJOYMENT OF THE COUNTRYSIDE FOR INFORMAL RECREATION, WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THERE WOULD BE NO SIGNIFICANT HARM TO THE CHARACTER OR APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, ASSESSED AGAINST THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
  1. IMPACT OF BUILDINGS, ROADS OR OTHER STRUCTURES, OR THE ACTIVITY ITSELF ON THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT POLICIES E4, E7 AND E8;
  2. IMPACT ON AGRICULTURAL LAND AND VIABILITY, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT POLICY E6;
  3. EFFECT OF NOISE OR OTHER FORMS OF DISTURBANCE ON NEARBY RESIDENTS OR OTHER COUNTRYSIDE USERS ARISING FROM THE ACTIVITY OR FROM INCREASED TRAFFIC ON ACCESS ROADS;
  4. IMPACT ON PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY AND OTHER RECREATION FACILITIES, IN TERMS OF PHYSICAL DAMAGE, DISTURBANCE OR DANGER;
  5. IMPACT ON THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF RURAL ROADS ARISING FROM KERBING, THE CREATION OF VISIBILITY SPLAYS, SIGNING AND OTHER MEASURES NEEDED TO ACCOMMODATE INCREASED TRAFFIC FLOWS;
  6. IMPACT ON FLORA AND FAUNA, WILDLIFE HABITATS AND WILDLIFE CORRIDORS.
  IN CONSIDERING PROPOSALS FOR SITES IN THE AREA OF HIGH LANDSCAPE VALUE DEFINED IN POLICY E8 THE COUNCIL WILL HAVE PARTICULAR REGARD TO THE DESIRABILITY OF SAFEGUARDING THE QUIET ENJOYMENT OF THE AREA.
   
 
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5.43 The countryside is the preferred location for many recreation and sporting pursuits apart from the ‘access activities’ of walking, cycling and horse-riding. Some are specialised aspects of simple enjoyment of the countryside, such as bird-watching, and pose no threat to its character or amenity. Others may be organised uses of land requiring planning permission and potentially damaging because of noise or other disturbance.
5.44 There are relatively few locations for organised recreation and sport in the Borough; many activities require physical conditions or features that are not present in the local countryside. However, watersports are provided for at Bishopton and Middleton St. George, woodlands are used for shooting and, increasingly, for paintball games, and fishing takes place in the lower Skerne, the Tees and in various ponds. There has been substantial growth in participation in golf in recent years, and in demands for facilities; specific policies for golf development are included below.
5.45 Countryside-related sports and recreation development is acceptable in principle outside development limits. Countryside-related development includes facilities to serve rural communities, and those sports and recreation activities which, by their nature, require or are appropriate to a countryside location. Proposals will be assessed against Policies E4, E5 and E6, relating generally to new development in the countryside, and Policy E7, relating to landscape conservation. Policy R14 reinforces this general policy framework specifically in relation to recreation development and, in accordance with the Plan’s landscape policies, places particular emphasis on the protection of the Area of High Landscape Value (Policy E8). This approach is one of protecting the countryside for its own sake and discouraging activities which do not need to be located outside built-up areas. It is envisaged that the future recreation potential of the local countryside in the Plan area lies primarily in the quiet enjoyment of its environment.
   
 
POLICY R15 - Horse-Related Development
  PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT RELATED TO THE KEEPING AND RIDING OF HORSES FOR RECREATIONAL AND / OR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES WILL BE PERMITTED IN THE COUNTRYSIDE PROVIDED THE DEVELOPMENT WOULD NOT DETRACT FROM THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF THE LOCALITY OR FROM THE AMENITY ENJOYED BY RESIDENTS OR PEOPLE USING THE AREA FOR OTHER RECREATION ACTIVITIES, AND WOULD NOT BE HARMFUL TO WILDLIFE.
   
5.46 Horse-riding is an increasingly popular recreation activity, and the keeping of horses, either privately or on a commercial basis, can have an impact on the appearance of the countryside. Utilitarian stable buildings and home-made jumps can appear intrusive and unkempt. However, the keeping of horses can be beneficial in providing a new use for unused or under-used farmland, particularly close to the urban area. Employment opportunities may also be provided.
5.47 The Plan’s countryside and landscape policies (E4 to E8) provide the basis for considering development proposals in the countryside. Policy R15 reinforces that policy framework in relation to development for the keeping and riding of horses. The operation of sites can also have an impact on character and amenity, for example through erosion of vegetation and rights of way. The Council will have regard to recommended standards for the comfort and safety of horses in considering development proposals.
   
 
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GOLF DEVELOPMENT
 
POLICY R16 - Stressholme Golf Centre
  THE COUNCIL WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP THE EXISTING GOLF COURSE AT STRESSHOLME AS A GOLF CENTRE. PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS OR OTHER INSTALLATIONS MUST BE DESIGNED TO MINIMISE THEIR IMPACT ON THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, LANDSCAPE, WILDLIFE AND PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY. FUTURE TREE AND SHRUB PLANTING SHOULD HAVE REGARD TO THE WIDER LANDSCAPE IN ITS FORM AND SPECIES.
   
5.48 The municipal golf course at Stressholme is an established and very popular ‘pay-as-you-play’ facility and it makes a strong contribution to the landscape character of the lower Skerne valley through its tree cover. A golf driving range has been constructed, and the Council’s intention is to continue the development of Stressholme as a golf centre, whilst making sure that any developments are not damaging to their surroundings. The provision of a ‘par-three’ golf facility is the subject of Policy R18.
   
 
POLICY R17 - Golf Course Development
  PROPOSALS FOR GOLF COURSE DEVELOPMENT WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:
  A. THEY DO NOT HAVE A MATERIALLY ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRYSIDE IN GENERAL AND ON THEIR LOCAL LANDSCAPE SETTING IN PARTICULAR;
  B. THEY DO NOT RESULT IN THE PERMANENT LOSS TO AGRICULTURE OF THE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND;
  C. APPROPRIATE MEASURES ARE INCORPORATED TO SAFEGUARD OR TO CREATE WILDLIFE HABITATS OR PUBLIC RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO THE LAND;
  D. THE SITE IS ACCESSIBLE TO POTENTIAL USERS.
  PROPOSALS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED IN SUFFICIENT DETAIL TO ALLOW THESE MATTERS TO BE ASSESSED.
   
5.49 Existing golf courses are located at Blackwell, Haughton Grange, Dinsdale and Hall Garth, Coatham Mundeville. The Council’s intentions for Stressholme do not preclude the continuing development of these courses, provided that any proposals accord with the criteria set out in Policy R16 and with Policies E4 (new buildings in the countryside), E7 (landscape conservation) and E9 (protection of parklands). The Council encourages the enhancement and management of golf courses for their landscape, amenity and nature conservation value. Blackwell golf course, in particular, is important for its management of the prominent and attractive parkland landscape alongside a major road approach into Darlington.
5.50 The demand for golf facilities has outstripped the supply: although new courses have been provided in recent years, there is no sign that demand has been satisfied by these facilities. Golf courses can be a landscape, amenity and nature conservation asset. Equally, an insensitive design, concerned first and foremost with ‘playability’ rather than landscape, can be damaging and disruptive, particularly in parkland settings. It is essential that the Council is able to assess the impact of future proposals on landscape and wildlife, and full details of course design and construction will be sought at the outset.
   
 
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POLICY R18 - Par-Three Golf Course
  PROPOSALS FOR THE PROVISION OF A PAR-THREE GOLF COURSE WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT IN ITS LOCATION AND DESIGN IT SATISFIES THE REQUIREMENTS OF POLICY R17.
   
5.51 A ‘par-three’ golf course provides an intermediate level facility between a park pitch-and-putt course and an eighteen hole course. Appealing primarily to beginners, it is appropriate that a par-three course should be provided in the public sector, so that it is available to non-club members. The Council’s intention is that a par-three course should be provided as part of the Stressholme golf centre, where maximum benefit can be derived for users from its proximity to the eighteen hole course, driving range, clubhouse, shop and other facilities.
5.52 A site has not been identified in the Plan. It is possible that land on the north side of the A66, adjoining Darlington Rugby Club’s ground, could be used, but it is relatively remote from the clubhouse. Land would need to be acquired to provide a par-three course adjacent to the existing course. The Council will pursue the proposal as opportunities arise and resources allow.
 
ALLOTMENTS
 
POLICY R19 - Protection of Allotments
  DEVELOPMENT INVOLVING THE LOSS OF ALLOTMENT GARDENS WILL NOT BE PERMITTED UNLESS:
  1. A COMPENSATING AREA OF AN APPROPRIATE SIZE HAS BEEN PREPARED FOR USE IN A SUITABLE LOCATION; OR
  2. IT CAN BE SHOWN THAT NO LOCAL DEMAND FOR ALLOTMENT GARDENS EXISTS.
  PROPOSALS WILL BE CONSIDERED IN THE LIGHT OF POLICY E3.
   
5.53 All allotments in the urban area are identified as open land on the Proposals Map, and are therefore protected from loss to development by Policy E3. This protection is reinforced by Policy R19 in recognition of the valuable recreation resource which allotments provide, and to set out the circumstances in which development on allotment land may be permitted. Statutory allotments cannot be disposed of without the consent of the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport & the Regions under the terms of the Allotments Act 1925. The statutory allotments in the Borough are those at Sugar Hill, Cockerton (west side of West Beck); Hundens Lane (Allotment Association site only); Salters Lane North; and Barmpton Lane. Part of the Honeypot Lane allotment site is located within the Cross Town Route safeguarding corridor. The road should be aligned to avoid the allotment, or any loss of plots should be compensated by new provision in the vicinity.
5.54 Allotments which cease to be used may nevertheless be important as open land, in terms of amenity or potentially as open space, and development proposals affecting those within the urban area will be considered within the terms of Policy E3.
   
 
SPORTS, RECREATION AND LEISURE DEVELOPMENT
 
POLICY R20 - New Sports and Recreation Development
  NEW SPORTS AND RECREATION DEVELOPMENTS WILL BE PERMITTED WITHIN BUILT-UP AREAS WHERE THEIR IMPACT ON TRAFFIC AND RESIDENTIAL AMENITY IS ACCEPTABLE, WHERE SATISFACTORY CAR PARKING CAN BE PROVIDED, AND WHERE THEY ARE SITED IN LOCATIONS ACCESSIBLE TO PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS, CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS.
   
 
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  5.55 Darlington is well provided with indoor sports facilities. The Dolphin Centre is a venue of regional significance for swimming and a wide range of indoor sports and leisure activities. Other indoor venues include the Larchfield Street, Archer Street and Quaker Sports Centres, various community centres and village halls, the Morrison Indoor Bowls Centre, which hosts national televised tournaments, and the Topspin Tennis Centre at Teesside Airport.
  5.56 Outdoor sports are not so well provided for. The Playing Pitch Strategy identifies deficiencies for some team sports such as football and hockey. Most parks have well-maintained bowling greens, but their tennis courts are in need of improvement, with many being unplayable at the present time. The Borough’s best tennis courts are provided by private clubs, at Blackwell, Brinkburn Road, High Coniscliffe and the Topspin Centre. Bowling greens are provided at the Woodlands Club and at BRSA’s Brinkburn Road ground. Athletics provision is sub-standard. The only facility, the Longfield Road stadium, is not satisfactory by present day standards. Policy R22 refers specifically to athletics provision.
   
 
PROPOSAL R21 - John Dixon Lane Sports and Recreation Development
  6.0ha OF LAND AT JOHN DIXON LANE WILL BE RESERVED FOR FUTURE SPORTS, RECREATION AND LEISURE PROVISION. PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAND MUST INCLUDE THE PROVISION OF AN EQUIPPED CHILDREN’S PLAYGROUND TO SERVE THE ADJOINING RESIDENTIAL AREA. MEANWHILE, THE LAND WILL BE RETAINED AS OPEN LAND FOR INFORMAL RECREATION AND / OR WILDLIFE HABITAT.
   
5.57 The Council’s Leisure Plan assesses the demand for a much broader range of sports, recreation and leisure facilities than the narrower team sports focus of the Playing Pitch Strategy. The findings of the strategy are reflected in Policies R9 and R11 and Proposal R10. The Leisure Plan concluded that Darlington lacks certain facilities for which a demand exists, including a modern athletics track (Policy R22). The John Dixon Lane site provides a satisfactory location for this and other sports and recreation facilities such as an artificial pitch (Policy R11). However, access and development will be dependent on the development of land to the north (Proposal EP4); there should be no vehicular access to the site from John Dixon Lane in order to safeguard the amenity of nearby houses.
   
 
POLICY R22 - Synthetic Athletics Track
  PROPOSALS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SYNTHETIC ATHLETICS TRACK WILL BE PERMITTED WITHIN THE DEVELOPMENT LIMITS FOR THE URBAN AREA, PROVIDED IT IS LOCATED WHERE ITS APPEARANCE, LIGHTING AND USE WILL NOT BE DETRIMENTAL TO RESIDENTIAL AMENITY, WHERE IT WILL BE ACCESSIBLE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT USERS, CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS, AND WHERE SATISFACTORY CAR PARKING CAN BE PROVIDED.
   
5.58 The existing athletics facility at Longfield Road is not of a satisfactory standard or condition for modern training and competition requirements. Whilst a site is not identified in the Plan, a modern facility could be located on the land at John Dixon Lane (Proposal R21); this would be dependant on development of the land to the north for access. The land at Eastbourne School (Proposal R10) could also be suitable, although the priority there is for the provision of additional football pitches, followed by the artificial pitch (Policy R14). A third option would be to replace the existing track at Longfield Road, but that site is not in a particularly accessible location.
   
 
POLICY R23 - Off-Road Motorcycle Facility
  PROPOSALS FOR THE PROVISION OF A SITE FOR ORGANISED AND SUPERVISED OFF-ROAD MOTORCYCLING ACTIVITIES WILL BE PERMITTED, ON A TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT BASIS AS APPROPRIATE, PROVIDED THAT IT IS LOCATED WHERE ITS APPEARANCE AND USE WILL NOT BE MATERIALLY DETRIMENTAL TO RESIDENTIAL AMENITY, OR THE CHARACTER AND ENJOYMENT OF OPEN LAND AND THE COUNTRYSIDE, AND WHERE IT IS ACCESSIBLE TO POTENTIAL USERS.
   
 
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5.59 There is considerable demand, particularly from young people in the urban area, for access to open land for off-road motorcycling. This demand represents a legitimate recreation interest, but most of the current activity is illegal and perceived as a serious problem which is no longer confined to just one or two areas of the town. Motorcycles are ridden in places where disturbance is caused to other people, in terms of noise and physical danger, and many bikes are unlicensed and in an unroadworthy condition, and the riders uninsured. Policing alone cannot be effective in dealing with these problems.
5.60 Experience elsewhere has shown that provision of a site for off-road motorcycling can engender an organised and responsible approach to the activity, which in turn can help to reverse its sporadic and anti-social aspects. Motor sport’s governing bodies have an important role to play in supporting such projects, and they should be consulted in the development of proposals.
5.61 Provision of a site is only part of the solution. A multi-disciplinary approach, involving the Council, Police and Probation Officers, which overcomes the problem of insurance and liability, is required to respond satisfactorily to the existing problems. Such an approach resulted in the provision of a temporary facility at Firth Moor. The experiment was successful and permission has been granted for a more long term facility. The site is inside the development limits and sufficiently distant from dwellings and other buildings not to cause disturbance, but is on land allocated for employment development in the Plan.
5.62 The Firth Moor site can be used whilst it remains undeveloped for other purposes, subject to safeguards for users of adjoining rights of way, the agricultural tenant and for the adjacent Site of Nature Conservation Importance. However, an alternative site may be needed in future if employment development takes place, and other sites will be needed in other parts of the town, if similar projects are developed.
5.63 Finding suitable sites will be difficult. Priority must be given to the protection of dwellings from noise. It is also important that people using open land or the countryside for other recreation activities do not have their enjoyment impaired and that there is no harm to nature conservation interests. Proposals must be considered within the terms of Policies E3 and R14.
   
 
POLICY R24 - Leisure Facilities
  THE COUNCIL WILL SAFEGUARD AND ENHANCE THE ROLE OF DARLINGTON, AND IN PARTICULAR DARLINGTON TOWN CENTRE, AS A FOCAL POINT FOR ARTS AND LEISURE FACILITIES SERVING THE SUB-REGION. PROPOSALS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF LEISURE FACILITIES WILL BE PERMITTED WITHIN OR ON THE EDGE OF THE TOWN CENTRE. PROPOSALS FOR MAJOR FACILITIES, ATTRACTING CUSTOMERS FROM A TOWN-WIDE OR LARGER CATCHMENT AREA, WILL BE PERMITTED ELSEWHERE WITHIN THE URBAN AREA ONLY PROVIDED THAT:
  A. THERE ARE NO SUITABLE SITES AVAILABLE IN OR ON THE EDGE OF THE TOWN CENTRE;
  B. THERE WOULD BE NO DAMAGING IMPACT ON THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF THE TOWN CENTRE, INCLUDING THE EVENING ECONOMY;
  C. THE SITE WOULD BE EASILY ACCESSIBLE BY A CHOICE OF MEANS OF TRANSPORT; AND,
  D. THE DEVELOPMENT WOULD NOT ADD SIGNIFICANTLY TO OVERALL TRAVEL AND CAR USE.
  FACILITIES SERVING A PURELY LOCAL CATCHMENT WILL BE PERMITTED IN OR ON THE EDGE OF THE DEFINED DISTRICT AND LOCAL CENTRES, SUBJECT TO THE SAME REQUIREMENTS AS FOR NEW SHOPPING DEVELOPMENT THERE (POLICY S11). WHERE DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS INVOLVE THE DEMOLITION OF BUILDINGS PURPOSE DESIGNED AND USED, OR LAST USED, FOR LEISURE ACTIVITIES, THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK THE PROVISION OF REPLACEMENT FACILITIES WITHIN THE DEVELOPMENT.
   
 

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5.64 Darlington provides a range of attractive and high quality arts and leisure facilities for both local people and visitors. Major publicly-owned provision includes the Civic Theatre, Arts Centre, Library and Art Gallery, Dolphin Centre and Railway Museum. Commercial facilities include pubs, nightclubs, bingo halls, snooker clubs and a cinema. The Council is keen to maintain and expand the town’s role, in particular that of the town centre. Recent and proposed environmental enhancement works help make the centre a more attractive location for leisure uses, and improvements to car parking, security and personal safety encourage its extended use into the evening, bolstering the ‘evening economy’.
5.65 Facilities which the Borough currently lacks, and which could attract commercial investment, include an ice rink, bowling alley and a modern multi-screen cinema. Prospective developers of major leisure facilities such as these and large, ‘new-style’, bingo clubs will be required to adopt a sequential approach to site selection, demonstrating that sites within and on the edge of the town centre have been thoroughly assessed before less central locations are put forward. The first preference should always be for a site within the centre. Away from the town centre, proposed developments will be need to be genuinely accessible to a significant proportion of customers and staff arriving by public transport, on foot and by bicycle, and the proposal will be expected not to lead to any material increase in overall travel, in particular car use. It is essential that any such developments do not detract from the town centre. Proposal EP4 provides for an element of leisure use at land off Haughton Road within a comprehensive development scheme, and carried out in conjunction with Proposal R21 (John Dixon Lane sports and recreation development).
5.66 Facilities serving a local catchment population will normally be appropriate in or adjoining district and local shopping centres, provided that they are physically integrated with, and have good pedestrian links to, the rest of the centre. Car parking spaces should be available for shared use with the shopping facilities. The maximum distance between facility entrances and incoming and outgoing bus stops should not exceed 200m where a level walk is involved, or 100m in any other situation. Planning permissions will be subject to conditions restricting the hours of operation, where residential amenity requires safeguarding.
5.67 Many existing leisure buildings, such as the cinema and theatre, are specially designed and represent a resource which, wherever possible, should be retained in leisure use.
5.68 Particular parts of the town attract concentrations of facilities, for example, restaurants in Northgate and activities centred on the theatre in Parkgate. Encouragement will be given within the town centre to the establishment of street activities such as pavement cafés and street entertainment.
 
COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND SERVICES
 
POLICY R25 - Provision of Community Facilities and Services
  PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS OR CHANGE OF USE AND CONVERSION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS FOR COMMUNITY PURPOSES, INCLUDING COMMUNITY AND YOUTH CENTRES, CHURCHES AND CHURCH HALLS, EDUCATION AND HEALTH FACILITIES, LIBRARY SERVICES, EMERGENCY SERVICES AND LOCAL SHOPS WILL BE ENCOURAGED, HAVING REGARD TO THE NEED TO SAFEGUARD RESIDENTIAL AMENITY, THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF THE SURROUNDINGS AND HIGHWAY SAFETY.
   
 

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5.69 The Council is keen to ensure that the existing range of facilities provided to satisfy community needs within the Borough is retained and where appropriate expanded. The services which are provided include sub-post offices, doctor’s and dentist’s surgeries, and places of worship. Child day-care centres also provide an important local service for young families, and public houses are a vital element of a community allowing for both socialising and providing meeting rooms for community-based groups. The varied nature of these facilities means that the operational hours and conditions may be outside normally accepted times; for example the use of religious buildings depends on the religion and its customs to determine the days and hours of use. Similarly the need for parking may occur away from peak times, as for a Sunday church service.
5.70 Due to the variety of operating hours and conditions, applications for uses which will function at off-peak times, or uses which create noise at abnormal hours, may be granted permission on a temporary basis at the outset, to establish their impact on residential amenity. Where appropriate, restrictions may also be imposed on the hours of operation. The current expansion of day-care nursery provision warrants particular attention: proposals are usually located in residential areas and care must be taken to ensure that noise and disturbance arising from parents delivering and picking-up children is not detrimental to residential amenity.
   
 
POLICY R26 - Protection of Community Facilities
  THE COUNCIL WILL SEEK TO RETAIN COMMUNITY FACILITIES. WHERE PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF BUILDINGS OR LAND WHICH SERVE COMMUNITY PURPOSES, THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE THE PROVISION OF ALTERNATIVE FACILITIES TO SERVE THOSE PURPOSES IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE DEVELOPMENT, PROVIDED THAT THERE IS A CONTINUING NEED FOR SUCH FACILITIES.
   
5.71 Where a development proposal would result in the loss of a service or facility for which there is a continuing need, the Council will encourage, by negotiation, the provision of replacement facilities to satisfy the need. The new facility should be sited close by, to retain the local range of services within easy access to the community.
5.72 In cases where the need for a particular service has ceased and there is no future requirement for that service in the locality then the re-use of the site for other purposes will be considered.
   
 
POLICY R27 - Sites for New Community Facilities
  THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE DEVELOPERS TO RESERVE LAND FOR THE PROVISION OF COMMUNITY FACILITIES IN MAJOR NEW HOUSING SITES.
   
5.73 Where a major site is proposed for housing there can be an opportunity to provide space for community facilities, to enable residents to benefit from a similar level of provision to existing residential areas and help maintain service and facility levels for the residents of surrounding areas.
5.74 The provision to be sought will be based on an estimate of demand in the locality, and will be outlined in planning briefs which will be prepared to provide detailed guidance. Appropriate legal agreements will be sought to ensure that, unless developed earlier for an approved purpose, the land is reserved throughout the period of the major site’s development.
   
 

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PROPOSAL R28 - School Provision at Brinkburn
  2.45ha OF LAND WILL BE RESERVED FOR A PRIMARY SCHOOL TO THE NORTH OF BRINKBURN ROAD.
   
5.75 The Council holds land to the north of Brinkburn Road, as shown on the Proposals Map, with access from Bellburn Lane, for the development of a new primary school.
5.76 The site has been grassed for use in part as playing fields by the existing Reid Street School pending the construction of the new school.
   
 
POLICY R29 - Village Community Halls
  THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW VILLAGE COMMUNITY HALLS OR THE IMPROVEMENT OF EXISTING HALLS WILL BE PERMITTED WITHIN THE DEVELOPMENT LIMITS, PROVIDED THAT THE PROPOSAL:
  1. RESPECTS THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF ITS SURROUNDINGS;
  2. DOES NOT ADVERSELY AFFECT THE AMENITY OF THE AREA;
  3. INCORPORATES SATISFACTORY ACCESS AND PARKING PROVISION.
   
5.77 Community halls play an important part in the life of a village particularly in meeting the needs of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, and appropriate proposals to extend and enhance the availability of such assets are encouraged by the Council. In any scheme for extension or reconstruction regard must be paid to the setting of the building and its existing character and proposals should respect the visual amenity of the village.
   
 
PROPOSAL R30 - West Cemetery Extension
  4.6ha OF LAND IS RESERVED FOR AN EXTENSION TO WEST CEMETERY.
   
5.78 This proposal is made to enable the Council to continue to meet its statutory obligation to provide consecrated ground for burials. At West Cemetery limited space now remains for new graves. The land available for burials in West, North and East cemeteries together will be filled within an estimated ten years. The extension provides for anticipated needs to beyond the period of the Plan.