Protection of Existing Community Facilities

17.9 Community facilities including local shops, services and public houses play a vital economic and social role in both urban and rural areas and their retention can assist in meeting the needs of the local community and reducing the need to travel. The Council recognises that there is a risk that such facilities may be lost to more financially profitable uses, and that such facilities are often difficult to replace. It is therefore considered that the loss of existing facilities should be resisted where they provide for a current or future local need.

17.10 Such facilities that are important to the community should be retained unless genuine but unsuccessful attempts have been made to retain the premises in a community use. To assess applications for the change of use or redevelopment of existing community facilities, the Council will require a thorough analysis of the existing operation and attempts made to secure the future viability of the community use. In all cases, the applicant must demonstrate that:

  • the need for the existing or alternative community facilities has been researched and that there is insufficient viable demand,
  • opportunities to support the facility by the introduction of other services have been explored, where the dual use of premises for a number of community functions may help support the viability of facilities,
  • efforts have been undertaken to secure the viability of the facility through applications for grant aid, business advice and discussions with community groups, parish Councils, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council and other national or local bodies with a direct interest in service provision, and
  • the site has been actively marketed for its existing use and alternative community uses, at a realistic price and for a reasonable period of time of at least a year, proportionate to the type and scale of the facility.

17.11 The following policy seeks to ensure that existing community facilities are protected where there is a need for them.

 

Policy CM02 - Protection of Existing Community Facilities

Proposals which would result in the loss of a community facility as defined in this plan will not be permitted unless:

1. It can be demonstrated that there is insufficient viable need for the community use or there is alternative local provision which is accessible to the local community, 

2. It can be demonstrated that every reasonable attempt has been made to secure an alternative community use before non-community uses will be permitted, and

3. Alternative provision of at least equivalent, or where possible, improved community benefit is provided in a convenient accessible location to serve the existing community.