17 - Communities

17.1 Social, cultural and community facilities are an integral part of developing inclusive and cohesive communities.

17.2 One of the core principles of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is to take account of and support local strategies to support health, social and cultural wellbeing for all, and deliver sufficient community and cultural facilities to meet local needs.

17.3 The NPPF also states that planning policies and decisions should plan positively for the provision and use of shared space, community facilities and other local services, and to guard against the unnecessary loss of such facilities. It states that planning policy should promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages.

17.4 The NPPF affords protection to existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land (including playing fields) stating that they should not be built on unless the land is surplus to requirements, or the development will result in better provision of open space or sports and recreational provision.

17.5 Community facilities are defined in this Plan as local and village shops, meeting places, sports venues, nurseries, cultural buildings, public houses, places of worship, public rights of way, other local services including those for education and medical purposes, which enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments. It also includes, vacant land that was last lawfully used as a community facility or previously occupied by a building whose last lawful use was for a community facility.

17.6 The provision of new facilities can be important in promoting sustainable development by reducing the need to travel and providing a service for those who do not have access to transport.

17.7 To be all inclusive, new community facilities should be designed in accordance with the Changing Places specification set out in Kent County Council's Kent Adult Social Services Glossary document dated October 2008 or any successor document or as modified by legislation or best practice or otherwise agreed which complies with the Disability Discrimination Act.

17.8 Paragraph 42 of NPPF recognises the vital role that high-speed broad band technologies and other communication networks play in enhancing the provision of local community services and facilities. Local authorities and other public sector providers are increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure to provide services and to interact with their customers. It is therefore becoming increasingly important for community facilities to also have this access as this will safeguard their future use making them more viable and adaptable for a range of uses. This will enable them to adapt to the changing demands thereby safeguarding their viability as a commercial concern. The Council will expect proposals for new community facilities to include the provision of high speed broadband to help facilitate the creation of a community hub thereby making the facility more viable in the long term.

Policy CM01 - Provision of New Community Facilities

Proposals for new, or extensions of, or improvements to existing community facilities will be permitted provided they:

1) are of a scale to meet the needs of the local community and in keeping with the character of the area;

2) are provided with adequate parking and operational space;

3) are accessible by walking or cycling to the local community;

4) are located within or adjacent to the community or settlement they serve;

5) would not significantly impact upon the amenity of neighbouring residents;

6) either provide or have the ability in the future, to make provision for broadband to facilitate the creation of a community hub network