Thanet's New Local Plan - Options consultation

Issue 18 - How should we plan for community facilities?

Introduction

Why do we need to address this issue?

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

One of the core principles of national planning policy 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.

National planning policy 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 existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields 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.

Public rights of way and access should be protected and enhanced, and opportunities should be sought to provide better facilities for users.

What evidence we have on this issue

We are working with infrastructure providers to understand what facilities are required to support new development, and to inform the Infrastructure Delivery Plan.

Key Facts and Information

The following key facts are important when considering how we can make sure there is sufficient provision of shared facilities for our communities.

The need for new community facilities, and more detail about how we can provide them, will be addressed once the number and location of homes that will be built in the district has been decided.

The Thanet Local Plan 2006 includes policy CF1 which is a criteria based policy granting the development of new community facilities or the re-use of existing community facilities for alternative community uses. It also resists the change of use or re-use of a community facility for a non-community use. Policy CF2 requires development contributions where a new development results in the need to provide new or upgraded community facilities. Policy CF3 permits the development of new educational and training facilities.

The Planning Obligations and Developer Contributions SPD, adopted in 2010, sets out when the provision of new community facilities will be required in new developments (for developments of 10 or more dwellings), including

  • Leisure & Recreation - including play space, sports facilities, open space, youth facilities
  • Education - including Primary, Secondary, Adult Education
  • Adult Social Services

This SPD is proposed to be re-written in conjunction with the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Considering how we plan for community facilities

Along with the key facts and information above, the following are factors to take into account and to help you consider how we plan for community facilities.

Facilities such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship can help enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments.

In addition to requiring new developments to be provided with the necessary community facilities, there are other ways we can make sure there is a sufficient provision of these facilities:

  • Protecting existing facilities.
  • Allowing new facilities to be developed.

As stated above, the Council currently uses saved local plan policy CF1 for assessing planning applications relating to community facilities.

The policy has been used in decisions to grant planning permission for new or additional community facilities. Examples include:

  • Extensions to accommodate additional dental or doctors surgeries
  • Change of use of building to a church
  • Erection of children's play equipment
  • Erection of building to contain swimming pool and changing facilities
  • Erection of building comprising health care centre and pharmacy
  • Erection of Parish Hall

In relation to protecting existing facilities, the policy requires the re-use of a community facility for other uses to be justified by demonstrating that there is no longer sufficient community use for the facility. There have been instances where planning permission has been granted and a community facility has been lost. The policy has also been used to ensure that replacement community facilities are provided in the area.

There have been examples where buildings previously used for community facilities have been demolished, so the redevelopment of the site has not been considered for a replacement community use as that facility no longer exists. If community facilities are lost, they are often difficult to replace. We need to ensure that any policy is specific and strong enough to protect existing community facilities, and can ensure the delivery of replacement alternative community facilities where there is a local need.