Policy INF4: Protecting Existing Facilities

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy INF4:  Protecting Existing Community Facilities

Proposals that would result in the loss of community facilities (including sites last used for such activities) will only be permitted if it is demonstrated that:

  1. The facility is no longer needed; or
  2. It is demonstrated that it is no longer viable; and
  3. If either of the criteria above are satisfied, the premises have been actively marketed for at least 12 months and no reasonable offers have been made; and
  4. If there is a community service still operating from the premises in question then it must be demonstrated that they have suitable alternative premises available to them, which can be occupied within a reasonable timescale and which will meet their operational needs.

The loss of community facilities will also be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the development would provide sufficient community benefit to outweigh the loss of the existing community facility or service.

Development proposals in close proximity to existing community facilities which could have a detrimental impact upon the operation of that facility will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the development is necessary to ensure the retention of the facility (if it is being provided in order to help support that facility) and that it will not be likely to lead to the potential loss of that facility.

The council will work proactively with local communities and support proposals to retain, improve, or re-use community facilities and services, including those set out in Neighbourhood Plans or Orders, including Community Right to Build Orders along with appropriate supporting development which may make such provision economically viable.

9.50 The borough is fortunate in being well provided for in terms of community facilities, which are supported by a strong network of council, club, community, education and private sector partners and volunteers. However, there is often pressure to redevelop site sites for more commercially desirable uses.
9.51 Protecting existing community facilities is of vital importance for local communities, and it will be essential to guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce any community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs.
9.52 Therefore, applications for the loss of community facilities (as defined in paragraph 2 of Policy INF3) will only be consented in the limited circumstances set out in the policy. In terms of facilities no longer being needed, this may constitute a scenario where the provider of the service in question has ceased using a particular facility owing to the consolidation of those activities within a smaller number of premises. As a minimum, such proposals must be supported by a report evaluating the quantity and quality of existing facilities in the locality and assessing their need and value to the community. The views of the local community on any loss must be sought as part of this assessment.
9.53 In terms of viability, this will need to be demonstrated through a viability appraisal. This will need to be proportionate and tailored to the type of use in question. This should be set out in a detailed report and provided as part of the application, the contents of which will be made publicly available.
9.54 In all instances where there is a proposal for the loss of a community facility and service the evidence submitted to support the application must include details of consultation with the local community, including relevant community groups and council departments.
9.55 Where the existing facility is either no longer needed, or is no longer viable, it will still be necessary to market the premises for 12 months The premises must be marketed for their current use as well as other suitable community uses, and the marketing exercise needs to have been active and the price quoted needs to have been realistic. As part this process the applicant will need to demonstrate that local community groups, including the local parish council (in parished areas) have been notified of the marketing process. The council has published a marketing guidance note which should be used to inform the marketing process and will be a material consideration when assessing the process which has been undertaken.
9.56 Where an application for a replacement community facility is proposed, the existing facility should be retained where possible, or alternatively, temporary facilities should be provided until the new facility is ready for occupation.
9.57 When assessing proposals for the loss of existing facilities the council will have due regard to any relevant neighbourhood plans and also any council strategies or other local level documents which help in understanding how to apply the requirements set out in the policy.
9.58 The council will work positively with local communities, including voluntary organisations, and support proposals to retain, improve or re-use social and community infrastructure including those set out in Neighbourhood Plans or Orders including Community Right to Build Orders, along with appropriate supporting development which may make such provision economically viable.
9.59 This policy is mainly focused on the loss of existing community facilities. However, it also applies to instances where a community facility has been proposed as part of new development, but the developer no longer considers that the community facility is capable of being provided. Such applications will need to comply with the requirements set out in this policy.
Implementation and Monitoring

Implementation will be through:

  • Development management and decisions on planning applications.

The policy will be monitored by:

  •  Recording and analysing relevant planning applications and appeals which propose the loss of community facilities and services.

Representations

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