8.2 Open Space, Sport and Leisure

Closeddate_range16 Oct, 2019, 9:30am - 11 Dec, 2019, 5:00pm

Introduction

8.2.1The Open Space Strategy in Part 1 sets out the policy aims and framework for the following operational subject policies relating to open space. It also sets out for the purposes of the LDP, a definition of the term ‘open space’.

Policy OSL1 Protection of Open Space

Development that would result in the loss of existing open space or land zoned for the provision of open space will not be permitted, irrespective of its physical condition and appearance.

Exceptions:

  1. An exception may be permitted where it is clearly shown that redevelopment will bring substantial community benefits that decisively outweigh the loss of the open space.
  2. An exception may also be permitted where it is demonstrated that the loss of open space will have no significant detrimental impact on the amenity, character or biodiversity of an area and where either of the following circumstances occur:
    1. in the case of an area of open space of two hectares or less, alternative provision is made by the developer which is at least as accessible to current users and at least equivalent in terms of size, usefulness, attractiveness, safety and quality; or
    2. in the case of playing fields and sports pitches within settlement limits, it is demonstrated by the developer that the retention and enhancement of the facility can only be achieved by the development of a small part of the existing space - limited to a maximum of 10% of the overall area - and this will have no adverse effect on the primary use of the facility for sport and recreation. This exception will be exercised only once.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.2A general presumption against the loss of open space to competing land uses will be operated as once built on it is almost certainly lost to the community forever. The retention and, whenever possible, enhancement of existing open space will be supported throughout the Borough, whether specifically identified in the LDP or not, unless the lands are identified in the LDP for an alternative use.

8.2.3For exception a), applicants will be expected to demonstrate that their proposals are supported by the local community. For exception b) i., where an exchange is acceptable in principle it will be secured through use of planning conditions or, where appropriate, a Planning Agreement under Section 76 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. This will tie redevelopment to the provision of the new facility and ensure that this is capable of being maintained adequately through appropriate management agreements. Exception b) ii. will be applied only once to guard against the piecemeal erosion of playing fields and sports pitches by a succession of small developments. In addition, the grant of planning permission will normally be reliant on the applicant entering into a Section 76 Planning Agreement tying the financial gain arising from redevelopment to the retention and enhancement of the open space facility.

8.2.4All proposals for the alternative use of open space will be assessed with regard to their effect on the amenity, character and biodiversity of the area and the wider locality and taking into account anticipated future need for open space. Any deterioration in the appearance or condition of open space due to inadequate management or maintenance, however, will not be sufficient justification in itself for the loss of the open space to alternative uses.

Policy OSL2 Greenways

Development proposals that create, protect, extend, complement and/or improve regional or community greenways, including those designated in the LDP, will be granted planning permission where they meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP. Where appropriate, development proposals shall include open space linkages to designated regional or community greenways.

Planning permission will not be granted for development either within or adjacent to a designated regional or community greenway which could prejudice the retention, enhancement or further development of an identified route.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.5Linear open spaces and green corridors such as pedestrian and cycle routes, community greenways, former railway lines and river and canal corridors are valuable in linking the places where people live to the places they work, the services they wish to access or to larger areas of open space. This offers opportunities for commuting, recreation, exercise, social interaction, active travel and increasingly greenways are becoming an important tourism asset. They also provide important wildlife corridors/ecological networks, assist in flood risk management as well as promoting and protecting public access to and along the coast.

8.2.6This policy provides for the creation and protection of greenways across the Borough which will form part of a multi-functional green and blue infrastructure network. Development proposals involving amendments to an identified route may be acceptable, provided that the alternative arrangements maintain the overall integrity of the route.

8.2.7Details of the broad location of designated regional greenways are set out on the District Proposals Maps. Details of designated community greenways will be set out in the Local Policies Plan alongside more detailed proposals for regional greenways where finalised.

Policy OSL3 New Open Space Provision

The provision of public open space will be permitted where it meets the General Policy and accords with other provisions of the LDP.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.8This policy seeks to ensure that new public open space is of a good design, is well located in regard to accessibility, and meets normal planning requirements. This policy will apply to the development and extension of open space not specifically covered by other open space policies in this document. For example parks, public gardens, civic spaces, kickabout areas and children’s play parks outside residential developments.

Policy OSL4 Public Open Space in New Residential Development

Council will only permit proposals for new residential development of 25 or more units, or on sites of one hectare or more, where public open space is provided as an integral part of the development. In smaller residential schemes the need to provide public open space will be considered on its individual merits.

An exception to the requirement of providing public open space will be permitted in the case of apartment developments or specialised housing where a reasonable level of private communal open space is being provided.

An exception will also be considered in cases where residential development is designed to integrate with and make use of adjoining public open space.

Where the provision of public open space is required under this policy, the precise amount, location, type and design of such provision will be negotiated with applicants taking account of the specific characteristics of the development, the site and its context and having regard to the following:

  1. A normal expectation will be at least 10% of the total site area or 15% where the site is 10 hectares or more;
  2. Provision at a rate less than the above requirements may be acceptable where the residential development:
    • is located within a town centre; or
    • is close to and would benefit from direct and unobstructed access to areas of existing public open space; or
    • provides accommodation for special groups, such as the elderly or people with disabilities.

For residential developments of 100 units of more, or for development sites of five hectares or more, an equipped children's play area will be required as an integral part of the development, unless otherwise specified through key site requirements on sites zoned in the Local Policies Plan. Until the adoption of the Local Policies Plan, an exception to this requirement will be considered where an equipped children’s play area exists within reasonable walking distance (generally around 400 metres) of the majority of the units within the development scheme.

Public open space required by this policy will be expected to meet the General Policy criteria, accord with other provisions of the LDP and to conform to all the following criteria:

  1. it is designed in a comprehensive and linked way as an integral part of the development;
  2. it is of demonstrable recreational or amenity value;
  3. it is designed, wherever possible, to be multi-functional; and
  4. it provides easy and safe access for the residents of the dwellings that it is designed to serve.
Management and Maintenance

Planning permission will not be granted until the developer has satisfied Council that suitable arrangements will be put in place for the future management and maintenance in perpetuity of areas of public open space required under this policy.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.9Providing public open space as an integral part of a housing scheme contributes to the creation of a sustainable and quality residential environment. It has both recreational and social value, and helps to establish a sense of identity. The ‘greening’ of an area can also contribute to people’s health, wellbeing and quality of life, particularly that of children. It can also assist biodiversity and facilitate sustainable drainage.

8.2.10Public open space can be provided in a variety of forms ranging from village greens, kickabout areas and small parks through to equipped play areas and sport pitches. In addition, the creation or retention of woodland areas or other natural or semi-natural areas of open space can provide valuable habitats for wildlife and promote biodiversity. Through careful design, multi-functional areas combining activities and uses, linked to a wider green network can often be successfully created. To provide for maximum surveillance areas of open space are best located where they are overlooked by the fronts of nearby dwellings.

8.2.11It is important, that children’s play areas and facilities are located within a reasonable walking distance of where they live. However, they should not be located so close to dwellings as to cause noise or nuisance problems for residents. The LDP will help meet these aims by requiring provision of play spaces and where appropriate new fixed or equipped children’s play areas within new housing developments in accordance with this policy. Alternatively, a developer contribution may be sought for new or upgraded facilities in the locality.

8.2.12In large developments, there may be a need to provide more formal outdoor recreation facilities, such as playing pitches, to meet the needs generated by the development. This will be assessed on a case by case basis by Council, taking account of any wider strategy for outdoor recreation facilities.

8.2.13In assessing the amount of public open space provision needed in a particular development proposal, only space of demonstrable recreational or amenity value i.e. ‘useable’ open space, will generally be counted. Accordingly, verges and visibility splays, which form part of the adopted highway, will not be taken into account.

8.2.14In cases where private communal gardens are proposed as an integral part of apartment or specialised housing developments, separate provision of public open space will not be required.

8.2.15Appropriate planning conditions will also be attached to address the following matters:

  • the laying out and landscaping of the open space;
  • the timing of its implementation; and
  • the permanent retention of the open space.

In all cases developers will be responsible for the laying out and landscaping of public open space required under this policy.

8.2.16It should be noted that there may be occasions where the provision of open space in association with residential development can only be facilitated by the applicant entering into a Planning Agreement under Section 76 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. Where this is the case, the Planning Agreement will need to be completed before planning permission is granted. A guidance framework on planning agreements and developer contributions will be developed by Council in the future.

Management and Maintenance in Perpetuity

8.2.17It is important that adequate management and maintenance arrangements are in place for open space and recreation facilities associated with new development. Arrangements acceptable to the Council include:

  1. a legal agreement transferring ownership of and responsibility for the open space to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council; or
  2. a legal agreement transferring ownership of and responsibility for the open space to a charitable trust registered by the Charity Commission or a management company supported by such a trust; or
  3. a legal agreement transferring ownership of and responsibility for the open space to a properly constituted residents’ association with associated management arrangements.

8.2.18Where developers are considering transferring ownership of and responsibility for the open space to Council, they should consult with Council at an early stage in the design process and take into consideration Council’s ‘Out to Play Strategy’. To be considered for adoption, the minimum size of useable play/recreation space should be of 1,400sqm (e.g. 70m x 20m) or more and for structured play spaces an area of not less than 600sqm will be needed.

8.2.19Where the proposal is for a properly constituted residents’ association to take responsibility for the open space management, the ownership of the open space is divided equally among incoming residents who then employ a management company on their behalf to maintain the open space. The developer will be responsible for setting up a resident’s association, putting in place the initial management regime and ensuring this matter is clearly set out in the sale agreement. Any developer intending to follow this approach will also be required to demonstrate to Council’s satisfaction what alternative measures will take effect in the event that the residents’ management arrangements were to break down.

8.2.20If an applicant/developer wishes to follow an alternative approach to those outlined in the policy, it will have to be demonstrated how such an approach can meet Council’s policy requirement for the open space to be managed and maintained in perpetuity.

8.2.21Full information on which of the above approaches an applicant intends to follow must be provided and then agreed with Council before full planning permission (or approval of reserved matters) is granted. Any necessary legal agreements between the developer and Council or other third parties needs to be in place before the development commences. A condition will be attached to planning permission tying the management and maintenance of the open space to the approach agreed with the Council.

Policy OSL5 Sport and Outdoor Recreation Facilities

Sport and Outdoor Recreation in Settlements

The development of sport and outdoor recreation facilities inside settlement limits will be permitted where they meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP, including the policy text below relating to noise, floodlighting and water sports.

Sport and Outdoor Recreation in the Countryside

The development of appropriate sport and outdoor recreational facilities in the countryside will be permitted where they meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP, including the policy text below relating to noise, floodlighting and water sports. In addition such proposals must have no unacceptable impact on nearby agricultural activities or other established rural enterprises.

Intensive Sports Facilities

Proposals for new intensive sports facilities or large extensions to existing facilities will only be permitted where these are located at appropriate and accessible locations within settlements. An exception may be permitted in the case of the development of sports stadium where all the following criteria are met:

  1. there is no alternative site within the settlement which can accommodate the development;
  2. the proposed development is sited at an accessible location close to the edge of the settlement and can be clearly identified as being visually associated with the settlement;
  3. there is no adverse impact on the setting of the settlement; and
  4. the scale of the development is in keeping with the size of the settlement.

In all cases the development of intensive sports facilities will be required to meet the General Policy and accord with other provisions of the LDP.

Noise Generating Sports and Outdoor Recreational Activities

Development of sport or outdoor recreational activities that generate high levels of noise will only be permitted where they meet the General Policy, accord with other provisions of the LDP and where all the following additional criteria are met:

  1. there is no unacceptable level of disturbance to people living nearby or conflict with other noise sensitive receptors;
  2. there is no unacceptable level of disturbance to farm livestock and wildlife; and
  3. there is no conflict with the enjoyment of environmentally sensitive features and locations or areas valued for their silence and solitude.
Development of Facilities ancillary to Water Sports

The development of facilities ancillary to water sports associated with inland lakes, reservoirs and waterways will be permitted where they meet the General Policy, accord with other provisions of the LDP and where all the following criteria are met:

  1. it is compatible with any authorised existing use of the water body, including, for recreation and non-recreational purposes;
  2. it will not result in water pollution or compromise the aims or objectives of any river basin management plan published under the Water Framework Directive; and
  3. there is no conflict with the provisions of any local management plan which has been formulated or endorsed by a competent authority.
The Floodlighting of Sports and Outdoor Recreational Facilities

Floodlighting associated with all sports and outdoor recreational facilities will only be permitted where the General Policy is met.

Justification and Amplification

Sport and Outdoor Recreation in Settlements

8.2.22This policy seeks to support sport and recreation facilities that are of high quality sustainable design, and respect the visual and residential amenity of the local area, local character and distinctiveness, and respect the historic environment and natural heritage. Proposals should also provide satisfactory arrangements for access for all, car parking, drainage and waste disposal.

8.2.23This policy will apply to the development and extension of sport and recreation facilities not specifically covered by other open space policies in this document.

Sport and Outdoor Recreation in the Countryside

8.2.24Our countryside provides for a wide range of recreation activity opportunities for both the local population and for an increasing number of tourists. Hill walking, rambling, cycling and angling are among the most popular countryside recreational pursuits. There is also a growing number of people now taking part in activities such as horse riding, golf, orienteering, mountain biking, rowing, sailing and canoeing. Such activities often generate a demand for ancillary facilities.

8.2.25In line with the SPPS, the LDP seeks to encourage farm diversification to strengthen the rural economy. While this can offer opportunities for outdoor recreation purposes, it this must be balanced against the environmental impact of certain countryside pursuits and their related developments. Council will therefore seek to ensure that new recreational development in the countryside is sustainable and does not conflict with the need to preserve, and wherever possible, enhance our rural environment for future generations.

8.2.26In locations designated for their landscape, nature conservation or historic importance, it may be possible to meet the demand for outdoor recreation use so far as this is consistent with the conservation or enhancement of the interest for which the site or area is designated (also see policies in Chapter 5.0 Countryside Strategy, Chapter 10.0 Stewardship of our Built Environment and Creating Places and Chapter 11.0 Safeguarding our Natural Environment).

8.2.27In assessing proposals, Council will take account of the nature of the sporting or outdoor recreational activity and the ability of the land, natural heritage, ecosystem or the landscape to sustain that activity in the long term, including the cumulative impact of proposals. The inherent character of certain areas, perhaps relating to their silence, solitude or remoteness, also needs to be considered. One location may be suitable for some pursuits but not others, while others may be suitable for a cluster of activities.

8.2.28The impact of development can usually be reduced by careful attention to scale, siting, layout, design and landscaping details. Any proposed activity or development should not, however, become a dominant feature in the landscape. In some cases, therefore, the provision of ancillary facilities may need to be restricted and the re-use of existing buildings encouraged as the preferable solution.

8.2.29Certain sports or outdoor recreation activities may on occasion create a demand for additional development, such as holiday chalets or a hotel. While it is acknowledged that such facilities can boost local tourism they must be considered on their own planning merits. The existence of an outdoor recreational use, such as a golf course, will not therefore in itself provide the justification for approving an associated development if this would not be acceptable in its own right under other policies in the LDP.

Intensive Sports Facilities

8.2.30An 'intensive sport facility', for the purpose of the policy, is defined as a purpose built indoor or outdoor resource which facilitates one or more activity fundamental to maintaining individual health and fitness. This may include stadia, sports halls, leisure centres, swimming pools and other indoor (and outdoor) sports facilities. They often serve as a focus for the community and can attract large numbers of users and/or spectators, particularly when competitive events are being hosted. It is therefore important that they are located where access is convenient by a range of modes of transport, including walking, cycling and public transport. In this regard, accessible sites within settlements are normally the most appropriate locations. Exceptionally, development of a sports stadium may be accepted at the edge of a settlement, outside the development limits. The policy sets out criteria for assessing such exceptional cases.

8.2.31The potential impact of any intensive sports use will be carefully considered in relation to local amenity, particularly the scale, frequency or timing of the sporting activities proposed, traffic, noise and light disturbance. Developments should also be of high quality sustainable design sympathetic to the local area and respect the historic environment and natural heritage. Proposals should also provide satisfactory arrangements for access for all, car parking, drainage and waste disposal.

Noise Generating Sports and Outdoor Recreational Activities

8.2.32Some outdoor recreational activities such as motorsports, shooting, water-skiing and paintball adventure games have the potential to generate high levels of noise and it is therefore necessary to carefully consider the siting and location of such activities. When assessing such proposals important factors will include the type of activity, the tone, level, frequency and duration of the noise generated, the design of facilities, the nature of the local topography and the nature of proposed screening. Suitable sites for noisy sports may include former mineral workings or locations where the ambient noise level is already high and the noise generated by the proposal will not appear dominant. Planning conditions may be used to limit the hours/or the frequency of the use (also see policies in Chapter 11.0 Safeguarding our Natural Environment).

Development of Facilities ancillary to Water Sports

8.2.33Water sports range from tranquil uses such as angling, sailing, canoeing, rowing and sail-boarding, to powered activities such as water-skiing, jet-skiing and other power boat uses. Management plans drawn up for particular water areas seek to address the compatibility of such varying demands. The development of ancillary facilities to support water sport uses, such as slipways, jetties, boat houses, toilet and changing facilities, parking areas and access, generally require planning permission. Ancillary space requirements for launching, mooring and car parking can vary from modest dimensions to large compounds.

8.2.34The impact on visual amenity and the character of the area will be important considerations in the assessment of proposals. Particular account will be taken of over-intensive use especially in or adjacent to sites of nature conservation importance, or areas designated for their landscape quality or historic significance (also see policies in Chapter 5.0 Countryside Strategy, Chapter 10.0 Stewardship of our Built Environment and Creating Places and Chapter 11.0 Safeguarding our Natural Environment). The need for access across land to inland bodies of water and the impact of this will be addressed when considering proposals for water sports. Proposals must also demonstrate that they will not damage the wider environment. Noise, erosion of shorelines or river banks and the potential loss of amenity for other users will be considered.

8.2.35Proposals for recreational development affecting the coastline of the Borough will be determined in line with the policies contained in Chapter 5.0 Countryside Strategy.

The Floodlighting of Sports and Outdoor Recreational Facilities

8.2.36The provision of floodlighting at sports and outdoor recreational facilities can extend the hours of operation of such facilities, thereby creating greater flexibility and potential for enhanced use by more people, both as participants or spectators. Where floodlighting is proposed as part of a new sports or recreational development or in association with an existing facility, a number of issues need to be considered. These include the potential for increased use of the facility, light pollution and increased traffic and noise generation. These impacts are particularly relevant where the proposed floodlighting is close to residential properties. The impact of floodlighting on visual amenity and on the character of the wider area are also important considerations. Particular care needs to be exercised in the countryside and those areas identified for their landscape, townscape or heritage value. Bats are particularly sensitive to floodlighting (please refer to NI Biodiversity Checklist (Version 2 DAERA 2017) for other susceptible species) and proposals should ensure no significant impact on them (see Policy NAT2 Species Protected by Law). Floodlighting must be positioned and designed to avoid prejudice to public safety, for example by way of glare likely to affect drivers of vehicles. Applicants are advised to take account of The Institute of Lighting Profession thresholds. Planning conditions may be used to limit the hours/or the frequency of their use, restrict the luminance or brightness of the lights or requiring the installation of appropriate shielding.

Policy OSL6 Community Growing Spaces and Allotments

The development of community growing spaces/allotments will be permitted where they meet the General Policy, accord with other provisions of the LDP and where all the following criteria are met:

  1. it is demonstrated that the site is suitable for growing food in terms of aspect, light, access to water, and where applicable any risks from contaminated land are appropriately managed;
  2. satisfactory arrangements are provided for an appropriate landscape scheme and it is demonstrated that the proposal will support wildlife; and
  3. details of the long term management/maintenance of the scheme shall be provided to the satisfaction of Council before planning permission is granted.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.37As well as encouraging physical exercise, the provision of spaces in urban areas for growing of food (e.g. community orchards, allotments and school grounds) can reduce food miles, provide people directly with fresh healthy food, increase education and awareness about good food and healthy eating. These spaces can also foster community pride, improve social cohesion and provide a focus for the community. Allotments are also an increasingly important resource for wildlife.

8.2.38This policy supports the delivery of community growing spaces and allotments in locations that encourage and support active travel as part of our commitment to sustainable development. It applies to both new standalone community growing spaces/allotments and where proposals form part of a wider development scheme. Proposals should be accompanied by a landscape plan and full details of any ancillary structures such as storage sheds, greenhouses or poly tunnels. As the on-going management of community growing spaces/allotments is important the submission of a long term maintenance plan will help to ensure the growing space does not become unsightly and unattractive.

8.2.39Existing allotments are protected under Policy OSL1 Protection of Open Space.

Policy OSL7 Cemeteries and Burial Space

All existing cemeteries and burial spaces will be protected from inappropriate development. The re-use of burial space will be supported. A proposal for the provision of new cemetery/burial space will be permitted where it meets the General Policy and accords with other provisions of the LDP. In addition, the applicant should demonstrate that the proposal will not have an adverse impact on the local water environment and in particular, the groundwater underlying the site.

Justification and Amplification

8.2.40This policy seeks to ensure that any new proposal for cemetery/burial space meets the normal planning requirements and is in an appropriate location. This policy will apply to new cemetery/burial space and extensions of existing cemeteries not covered by other open space policies in this document.

8.2.41Proposals for cemetery development should be considered in liaison with NIEA Water Management Unit. In considering such proposals consideration should be given to the following documents:

  • Planning Guidance Note: Cemeteries. A Guidance Note for Planning Officers and Applicants Seeking Planning Permission for New Cemeteries and Extensions to Existing Cemeteries.
  • Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPG’s), namely PPG 1, 4 & 5; Cemeteries, Burials and the Water Environment Guidance Note.

8.2.42Applicants should also consider any potential impact on the historic environment, in particular in the re-use of, or extension to, historic church sites and graveyards.

8.2.43This policy will also provide direction for the assessment of other cemetery proposals not identified in the LDP.

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