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South Holland Local Plan - Adopted July 2006
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Chapter 7
7.1 Recreation and leisure covers a diverse range of activities, including organised sports requiring outdoor pitches or indoor facilities, informal active pastimes such as walking or cycling and passive activities such as visits to the theatre, cinema, museums, art galleries and other attractions. Rising incomes, changing population profiles, increased leisure time, increased car ownership and a greater awareness and expectation of the facilities on offer have all contributed towards a growth in the demand for leisure related activities.
7.2 The District is not a major tourist destination despite its unique fenland landscape and dramatic skies, its churches, waterways, internationally renowned wildlife habitats and historic market towns and villages. However, as tourism gains momentum as a growth sector in the national economy, it is important that we are prepared to encourage and guide its development. The rich heritage of historic windmills also provides opportunities for tourism.
7.3 The provision and improvement of leisure, recreation and tourism activities are seen as an important part of the development strategy of the District. Firstly, they have economic benefits as employers in their own right. Secondly, by improving the quality and range of sporting, recreation and tourist facilities to meet demand, the area is made a more attractive place in which to live, work and visit, thereby helping to attract inward investment. Thirdly, the marketing of these facilities is probably the most important means by which a positive image of the area can be conveyed. Most of all, perhaps, we recognise that the provision and maintenance of these facilities is important in determining the quality of life of the local community.
7.4 The main emphasis of our strategies for leisure, recreation and tourism is to encourage and promote optimum usage of existing facilities, supporting the provision of new facilities especially where they are needed and maximising their accessibility to all sections of the community. The Local Plan is primarily concerned with the land use implications of such strategies, particularly the provision of land for public open space resulting from new residential development and other leisure, recreational and tourism projects proposed by the local authority, public or private bodies or individuals.
Leisure, Recreation And Tourist Facilities
7.5 The arts play a key role in contributing to the quality of life for many people living and working in South Holland. Whilst the enhancement of the South Holland Centre has improved access to and the provision of arts activities it is recognised that other opportunities exist throughout the District. Support will therefore be given to opportunities for people to visit cinema, live theatre and music events elsewhere in the District. Particular emphasis will be given to proposals that can enhance the night time economy of the District's market towns, helping to attract and retain young people in the area.
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7.6 In the case of the visual arts, it is recognised that there are limited opportunities for people to attend art galleries. Support will therefore be given to new developments that provide greater opportunities for people to experience quality visual arts activities and exhibitions. Attention will be paid to the importance public art can play in contributing to the vitality of town centres and to the local distinctiveness of the area.
7.7 We recognise that a growing population requires careful consideration to be given to meeting sporting need. We support the Sport England Facilities Planning Model to ensure adequate sporting provision is maintained and developed. In particular, the Castle Sports Complex and the Sir Halley Stewart playing field, both in Spalding, provide potential locations for future sporting developments to take place. However we will also look to the potential offered by other alternative locations in South Holland, including in association with the development of sites allocated under policy HS3.
7.8 Government policy states that local plans provide the appropriate context to identify deficiencies in open space and include policies for the protection of private and public open space. There are no prescribed national standards for the provision of open space. PPG17 uses the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA) six acre standard as an illustrative guide. This standard states that there should be 6 acres (2.43ha) of open space per 1000 population and that this should comprise adult, youth and children's play space. The District Council has carried out a study of the open space provision in the District's five towns, giving a quantitative assessment of play space at the NPFA minimum standard. This is available as a background paper. The following table summarises results.
  Provision of open space in the five Towns (NPFA play space categories only)
Spalding Holbeach Long Sutton Crowland Sutton Bridge
Total amount (Ha) 32.11 9.46 12.53 14.12 4.99
% of NPFA recommendation 56 52 106 164 60
7.9 Long Sutton and Crowland meet the NPFA minimum standard for play space per 1000 population, while there are significant shortfalls in Spalding, Holbeach and Sutton Bridge. However, the level of provision between adult, youth or children's play space is difficult to standardise as it must reflect the needs of the local age group which can change dramatically within a period of a few years where there is substantial new development. Demand is at a very local level and assessment of provision must also be made at that level. It is considered that many areas of open space could be upgraded to enhance their value for play. Except for Spalding the responsibility for the provision and development of open space lies with Parish Councils. We will generally support initiatives that increase or improve its provision.
7.10 Within the district there are other areas of open space that contribute to informal recreation, these include river side areas, and other green spaces including school playing fields that make a valuable contribution to open space provision within the district. Spalding in particular has extensive areas in these categories.
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7.11 The District Council has commissioned a Playing Pitch Assessment of the playing surfaces within the District which reported back in January 2003 with a qualitative assessment of all pitches available for public use. This is being reviewed.
7.12 Rivers, estuaries and drains are a common feature in the District. We would encourage the appropriate recreational use of water both for informal recreation and organised sport. In the case of the Wash, the non-statutory Wash Estuary Management Plan provides guidance with the aim of ensuring that leisure, recreation, tourism and other uses are undertaken within the context of the sustainable management of that area.
7.13 Some recreational uses such as large areas of public playing fields and golf courses often cannot be accommodated within built up areas and require a countryside location. Ideally such uses should be located on the fringes of towns in order to make them more accessible.
7.14 Activities such as clay pigeon shooting, motorsports and paintball and war games can result in disturbance to adjoining uses. It may be anticipated that the growing demand for these uses together with pressure for rural diversification will increase the number of these types of proposal, particularly in the countryside. Where possible these uses should utilise existing noisy sites, for example, adjoining industrial areas or where physical barriers provide natural noise attenuation. The enjoyment of participants will need to be balanced against the potential nuisance to others.
7.15 Indoor facilities provide an important element in the overall provision for leisure, recreation and tourism activities. Such activities should be located within the confines of settlements. Locations in or adjacent to town centres will be preferred for uses which have a town-wide or greater catchment area.
7.16 We recognise the value and importance of the internationally famous Spalding Flower Parade. In the past the area and region has not fully explored the opportunities to develop this brand and exploit this product as key tourism attraction for the region. Central to this success will be the necessity to develop a key festival strategy for this event and develop a visitor site and permanent home for the floats and the festival administration. However, we do not rely on a few specific attractions to draw visitors but are trying to promote the higher value-adding heritage and short break market particularly at the market towns and through rationalised countryside interpretation.
7.17 Closely linked to the Flower Parade is the Springfields Retail Outlet and Festival Gardens in Spalding, a visitor attraction of national interest. The original horticultural gardens have been rejuvenated and feature alongside a prestigious retail development which includes visitor attractions and tourist information provision. Springfields aims to attract up to 2 million visitors each year and is therefore of major significance to the entire District and Spalding Town Centre in particular.
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7.18 In terms of future tourism development it is recognised that the District suffers from a limited access to quality hotel accommodation. Development that seeks to broaden the base of hotel beds within the District is encouraged, particularly in Spalding.
7.19 It is mainly to the private sector that we look for the provision of new leisure, recreation and tourist facilities. Our emphasis is on the promotion and best use of existing facilities by all sections of the community. The acceptability of leisure, recreation and tourist proposals will be determined in consultation with the relevant governing bodies of sport and tourism through the development control process.
  Policy LT1 - Leisure, Recreation and Tourist Facilities
  Proposals for major new leisure, recreational or tourist facilities which attract large numbers of people, or the expansion of any such existing facility, should be appropriate to the scale and function of the centre within which it is or would be located and its catchment area. Outside defined retail centres such proposals will be permitted where there is an identified need for the development and the proposal is consistent with the sequential approach to site selection.
  In addition, and for all proposals for leisure, recreational or tourist facilities, development will be permitted provided that:
  1) they would be compatible in terms of scale, character and design with the area in which they are proposed;
  2) the effects on residential and countryside amenity including noise and light intrusion would be acceptable;
  3) road access, motor vehicle parking and service infrastructure provision would be satisfactory;
  4) the development is or will be well served by a choice of means of transport; and
  5) the effect on other interests, including farming and the conservation of areas of historic, archaeological, wildlife or landscape value would be acceptable.
Safeguarding Open Space For Sport, Recreation And Leisure
7.20 Within the built-up area, open spaces in the form of public gardens, ornamental flower beds, small landscaped areas and cemeteries provide a valuable visual amenity contributing to the quality of the built environment and to civic pride. Areas for recreational use also have this quality as well as providing for the community's needs for informal and formal recreational provision. Government guidance also recognises the importance of playing fields, regardless of ownership, and allotments in satisfying recreational needs and contributing to local amenity. There is a need to ensure that adequate levels of existing open space are retained within settlements.
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7.21 Parks, playing fields and informal open spaces all provide opportunities for sport, recreation and leisure. People, particularly children and the elderly, should have access to open space close to where they live.
7.22 Where development proposals are likely to impact upon open space provision we will need to be satisfied that alternative provision will be made that is of equivalent community value.
  Policy LT2 - Safeguarding Open Space For Sport, Recreation And Leisure
  Development which would result in the loss of public open space, parks or playing fields will only be permitted provided that:
  1) alternative provision of equivalent community benefit is made in the locality; or
  2) there is an excess of provision taking into account the long term recreation and amenity value of such provision; or
  3) sport, recreation and leisure facilities can be retained and enhanced through the redevelopment of a small part of the site.
Recreational Routes, Public Rights-Of-Way, Disused Railway Lines
7.23 The District Council considers that ease of access to open space and to other recreational facilities, particularly by foot or cycle, are equally as important as the overall level of provision. The Local Plan area contains a wealth of rights of way, rivers, drains and disused railways which represent a resource that could be utilised for recreation as well as wildlife corridors. The percentage of the population aged 45 and over is greater than the national and regional average and in consequence health related activities such as walking and cycling are likely to gain in popularity. Cycling is already a popular mode of transport, although in the intensively cultivated countryside both walking and cycling is generally limited to the built-up fringes. Existing rights of way, rivers, drains and disused railways, where rights of way exist, provide a network of footpaths and cycleways and provide safe access to existing open space and other leisure, recreational, and tourist facilities, and to the countryside. They are often valued areas for the enjoyment of nature. There are many parties with whom the Council may work in seeking to implement this policy, for example landowners, developers, interest groups and those organisations with a responsibility for managing the features which comprise the route network or could be added to it.
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7.24 An opportunity exists for the District to develop the use of the area's existing waterway network for navigation, providing improved access to the waterways for leisure and recreational purposes and promoting economic activity. Alongside such opportunities careful consideration needs to be given to ensuring the appropriate environmental balance is maintained.
  Policy LT3 - Recreational Routes, Public Rights-Of-Way, Disused Railway Lines
  The District Council will, in co-operation with others, continue to protect, enhance and extend public rights of way and the use of river corridors, other waterside areas (including drains and The Wash coastline) and disused railway lines for recreational and nature conservation purposes. Improved access from the built up areas into the countryside will be given particular attention.
  Where new or improved public accesses and rights of way are proposed, consideration should be given to ensure that these are accessible to all sections of society, including wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties.
The Fens Waterways Link
7.25 The Fens Waterways Link project has been set up to improve the waterways within the region, and ultimately link the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely. This is to be achieved by the improvement of existing, and creation of new waterways. As a part of the project a new waterway is intended to link the Welland at Crowland to the Nene, east of Peterborough. The District Council supports the principle of the Fens Waterways Link and the economic and tourist benefits that it will bring.
7.26 Within the implementation plan, navigation hubs have been identified and three such hubs are within South Holland:
  • Spalding has been identified as a location for a major navigation hub that would provide extensive moorings for up to 200 boats, with ancillary developments including boat repair yards and accommodation.
  • Crowland has been identified as an intermediate size hub, with moorings for 20-40 boats and the provision of general boating facilities and some accommodation.
  • West Pinchbeck has been identified as a minor hub, with mooring for 10 boats, and washout facilities.
  We believe that an allocation of land for the marina development at Spalding will best be undertaken as part of preparation of the Local Development Framework, specifically the Area Action Plan for Spalding. This will provide the opportunity for consideration of the options and of any proposals put forward to the Council.
7.27 The development of the Fens Waterways Link will also provide opportunity for other water based recreation and the promotion and development of tourism.
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  Policy LT4 - The Fens Waterways Link
  Planning permission will be granted for development ancillary to the Fens Waterways Link subject to proposals satisfying other relevant policies within the plan, and the following criteria:
  1) The proposed development will not have a negative impact on the vitality and viability of the town centres.
  2) The design of the proposal minimises its impact on the countryside.
  3) The proposal has suitable road access, and does not impact negatively on the flow of traffic near to the site, and is accessible by a choice of means of transport.
  4) The proposal will not prejudice flood defences surrounding the site, or have a negative impact on the standard of flood defence.
  5) The proposal will not have a detrimental impact on the environment.
7.28 The demand to play golf continues to increase and it is accepted that by their nature golf courses need to be located in the open countryside. The need to protect the character and appearance of the countryside does remain however, and new golf courses and associated buildings need to be sensitively designed to ensure that they assimilate successfully into the wider landscape. Locations on the edge of settlements are likely to be required to ensure accessibility by a range of transport modes. The Council would encourage the use of drought-hardy grasses and landscaping to reduce the need for irrigation.
7.29 Careful consideration must also be given to the design and location of driving ranges to ensure that associated buildings, surrounding fencing, flood lighting and car parks do not have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.
  Policy LT5 - Golf
  Proposals for the development of new golf courses and driving ranges will only be permitted where the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The level of provision in the Local Plan area does not satisfy demonstrable demand.
  2) The proposal would not harm the appearance of the landscape.
  3) In the case of golf courses, they are designed and landscaped in sympathy with the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape and adopt a natural, rough management regime.
  4) There would be no harm to the amenity of nearby residents.
  5) Ancillary buildings are designed to have minimal visual impact and in their design, form and materials of construction, respect traditional buildings in the locality.
  6) In the case of driving ranges, there would be no adverse impact on the character or appearance of the area from associated fencing, structures and floodlighting.
  7) The site is accessible by a choice of means of transport.
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Caravan Sites
7.30 The Council recognises that caravanning and camping are popular recreational pursuits and provide flexible tourist accommodation. They can be of great benefit to the local economy and provide opportunities for farm diversification. As most are self catering, local shops, pubs, restaurants and other businesses and attractions can benefit.
7.31 All proposals for new or extensions to existing caravan and campsites will have to meet strict criteria. Proposals should seek to minimise the impact on the landscape through careful siting, layout and design and should be well screened by indigenous landscaping. It is also important that there should be no adverse effect on the surrounding environment, wildlife, agricultural uses, or archaeological and historic sites of interest.
7.32 The scale of the proposal and the number of pitches proposed will be a key consideration in assessing the impact of proposals, particularly given the topography of the South Holland landscape which often enables long distance views of development. Small sites associated with existing rural businesses that can be successfully assimilated into the landscape are more likely to be acceptable. Access is of particular importance and sites should be located close to major roads and existing facilities and services. The Council must be satisfied that the extra traffic generated would not compromise highway safety.
7.33 Static caravan sites can be particularly difficult to accommodate without harming the character and appearance of the surrounding countryside. Static caravans are generally larger than touring caravans and are permanently sited. Where static caravans are individually owned or leased on sites the site can become suburban in appearance as people personalise their pitch with decking, sheds, gardens and similar accessories and belongings. Planning conditions will be imposed to prevent such suburbanisation and to ensure that static caravan sites meet the needs of conventional holidaymakers rather than providing second homes. Proposals for static caravan sites exceeding twenty pitches will not normally be acceptable. Conditions will be imposed on any planning permission limiting occupation to holiday accommodation or for holiday purposes only to prevent caravans being used as a person's sole or main place of residence, thus avoiding their use as permanent residential accommodation.
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7.34 It is essential that caravan sites are well screened all year round and not just in the summer months when vegetation is at its thickest. Some existing sites are in prominent locations and lack the necessary landscaping which would help them blend into the environment. PPG21 "Tourism" recognises the need for Councils to examine the scope for improvements in the quality of sites and schemes to improve the visual quality of these sites will therefore be supported. However proposals to increase the overall number of pitches and site area will be very carefully assessed.
7.35 Regard will also be had to the cumulative effect of sites on the landscape character or rural amenity of the countryside.
  Policy LT7 - Caravan Sites
  Proposals for new, or extensions to existing, holiday sites for touring, static, transit caravan and camping sites will be permitted provided that the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) Provision is made for the landscaping and screening of caravans, buildings and storage areas in order to prevent an unacceptable visual impact on the countryside.
  2) The development is small scale and related to the capacity of existing facilities and services in the local area.
  3) Occupancy is restricted to genuine holiday and not permanent accommodation.
  4) Any associated buildings are sensitively designed and of a scale commensurate with the size of the site.
  5) The site is well located in relation to an adequate road system which can accommodate the traffic generated.
  6) The proposal would not harm the amenity of existing residents in the locality.
  7) The site would not be at high risk of flooding or rapid inundation.
  This Policy does not apply to residential caravans which will be evaluated using the policies which relate to new housing development.
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Equestrian Development
7.36 PPS7 acknowledges that "horse-riding and other equestrian activities are popular forms of recreation in the countryside that can fit in well with farming activities and help to diversify rural economies". Horse riding continues to grow in popularity and there is a demand for stabling, particularly on small parcels of former agricultural land purchased for grazing. The cumulative effect of stables in an area can seriously harm the character of the countryside. The Council acknowledges the opportunities for new local employment which commercial riding stables, livery stables and equestrian centres can provide. Such proposals will be considered under those policies of the plan relating to development in the open countryside, the design of new development and farm diversification.
7.37 The Council encourages such activities whilst aiming to ensure that buildings associated with recreational horse-riding have a minimal impact on the landscape or nearby housing in terms of noise, smell, appearance or traffic generation. As equestrian facilities are often located in rural areas and in order to retain the rural character of the District it is important that high standards of design, siting and construction are used. This will also benefit the welfare of the animals. Where possible the re-use of existing buildings is encouraged to help alleviate the potential visual impact on the countryside.
  Policy LT8 - Equestrian Development
  Proposals for buildings to be used in association with the recreational keeping of horses outside defined settlement limits will only be permitted where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The buildings are located within or adjacent to an existing group of buildings and would not adversely affect the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape.
  2) There would be no harm to the amenity of nearby residents by virtue of smell or general nuisance.
  3) Satisfactory measures are implemented for the storage and disposal of manure and putrescible waste.
  Particular care will be taken to ensure that such development is appropriately landscaped and that associated paddocks retain an agricultural appearance.
  Permission will not be granted for visually isolated equestrian buildings outside defined settlement limits.
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