Chapter 9 - COMMUNITY FACILITIES

COMMUNITY FACILITIES - GENERAL

Retention of existing community buildings and uses

9.1 In view of the difficulties in obtaining premises for community use, it is important to protect existing community use sites, wherever possible, by resisting their loss to other uses. The general purpose meeting hall is one type of facility that plays an invaluable role in the social and community life of the Borough and consequently the Borough Council is anxious to protect them. There is a large and diverse stock of such premises owned by public authorities, community groups, churches, clubs and other organisations and some are also available for hire by others for social, leisure and recreational purposes.

Policy Cf 1

The Borough Council will normally resist the loss of community buildings or uses unless it is satisfied that:-

(i) there is no longer a need for them, or adequate alternative provision is to be made elsewhere in the locality; and
(ii) no other community facility or service can make use of the premises or site.

Amplification

(1) The Borough Council will expect any proposal which would result in the loss of an existing community building to be supported by evidence of reasonable attempts to dispose of the building for an alternative community use.
(2) Any redevelopment scheme, meeting the other provisions of this Plan, which involves the loss of community buildings or uses, will normally only be permitted where replacement accommodation is included on the site or nearby.

Design and Layout

9. 2 The diversity of buildings and sites which all come under the heading "community facilities" is such that a policy controlling such development must itself be all-embracing. It is also the case that, despite the desire of communities to have health and education facilities, churches, meeting halls and clubs locally, such uses can potentially be bad neighbours. Consequently a policy framework is set for considering new facilities and achieving a balance between user requirements and the maintenance of residential amenities, in particular.

Policy Cf 2

In order to maintain and enhance the natural and built environment of the Borough, all proposals for the development of community facilities will normally be required to:-

(i) make the best use of the physical characteristics of the site, views into and out of the site and aspect; existing trees, vegetation and other interesting features will be expected to be retained;
(ii) be of a scale and form which would respect the general pattern of development in the area;
(iii) be of a scale and form, where situated on the edge of the urban areas, to achieve the appropriate transition to the countryside beyond;
(iv) comprise a layout and design which does not adversely affect the amenities of adjoining properties and, where necessary, includes noise attenuation measures;
(v) be designed to a high standard incorporating elevational treatments, roofscape and building materials which complement the character of the area;
(vi) incorporate additional landscaping, where appropriate, which should be considered at an early stage as an integral part of the overall design;
(vii) incorporate facilities for the disabled and for the easy movement of perambulators, pushchairs and wheelchairs;
(viii) provide satisfactory means for the storage and collection of refuse;
(ix) where necessary, extraction equipment and plant should be fitted in as unobtrusive a manner as possible;
(x) comply with the currently adopted standards for highway design, parking and servicing provision; and
(xi) take into account the requirements of energy conservation.

Amplification

(1) The Borough Council will normally require applications to be supported by a thorough site survey assessing the quality of and effect of the proposed development on existing features. The survey should include reference to levels, aspect, views into and out of the site, trees, hedges, shrubs and other landscaping features, and to neighbouring properties. Applicants will, where appropriate, be expected to undertake a comprehensive tree survey identifying the locations, species and condition of all trees on the site. Trees not only form a natural feature which it is impossible to replace immediately, but also can be used to reduce the visual impact of new development. Developers will be required to observe a strict code of tree protection during the construction period (see Policy Pc 4).
(2) As a general rule, development should not normally exceed the height of other buildings in the surrounding area, in order to avoid overlooking, interference with established views, or having an adverse effect on the character of the area.
(3) A characteristic of development in the Borough is that generally densities decrease towards the edge of the built-up areas and is screened from view from the surrounding countryside. It is considered that these features should be perpetuated as far as possible so as to safeguard the visual amenities of the countryside. Particular attention will be given to the retention and reinforcing of the natural screening in such locations.
(4) Multi-purpose halls and other premises where amplified music or tannoy systems are likely to be used must be designed to minimise any nuisance caused, and may need to be sound insulated to the Borough Council's satisfaction. Premises which could generate high levels of pedestrian or vehicular activity at unsocial hours may be subject to a planning condition controlling hours of operation.
(5) Landscaping means the treatment of land for the purpose of enhancing or protecting the amenities of the site and the area in which it is situated, and includes screening by fences, walls or other means, planting of trees, hedges, shrubs or grass, formation of banks, terraces or other earthworks, layout of gardens or courts, and other amenity features. Plans of proposed additional landscaping will be required at the detailed planning application stage so as to assess the quality of the proposal in its finished form.
(6) Door widths, lift doors and lift carriages themselves, should all be designed to accommodate the needs of the disabled and their helpers, and for prams and pushchairs, including double buggies. For practical guidance on access for the disabled see the Approved Document dealing with the requirements from PART M of Schedule I of the Building Regulations 1991.
(7) Traffic aspects will be evaluated in relation to any internal road layout meeting approved standards and the effect of the completed development on the existing highway network. Proposals will need to demonstrate that a satisfactory means of access can be provided to approved standards, without causing an increase in danger to road users and pedestrians, and without giving rise to undesirable visual impact upon the street scene, e.g. loss of important trees or hedges. The internal site layout will need to minimise noise and disturbance to neighbouring properties from traffic movements, by careful layout and screening, and in the choice of materials for hard surfaces. Poor design features, e.g. unsightly views of service areas and refuse facilities, large unrelieved parking areas, etc. should be avoided.

New Community Facilities Provision

9. 3 The Borough Council will encourage early liaison with all organisations considering acquisition of new sites, in order to select the most appropriate location in relation to their particular needs and the policies of this Plan, and to minimise the environmental impact which certain uses can produce. In its role as a local planning authority, the Borough Council is often aware of land and premises which could be of relevance to organisations involved in premises searches. Early liaison could thus at one and the same time benefit the particular organisation and avoid the possible loss of a suitable building from the community stock.

9. 4 Some parts of the Borough which have been developed during recent years do not benefit from ready access to the long established stock of premises characteristic of most of the Borough. In these and other parts where it is evident that the existing community facilities are inadequate to meet the needs of the local community, the Borough Council will adopt an enabling role in the provision of new facilities.

Policy Cf 3

The Borough Council will encourage the provision of new community facilities, including change of use, in locations where demand arises:-

(i) which cannot be met from the use of the existing stock of community premises; and
(ii) where the appropriate design criteria as set out in Policy Cf 2 are met in full.

Amplification

(1) Assistance may take the form of making Council-owned land available, where this is appropriately sited, or by enabling access to be gained to other land. Where Council-owned land is not available, it is sometimes possible for development briefs relating to larger housing or commercial
schemes to include a requirement that land be made available for specific community needs of the new and established population e.g. doctors' surgeries and meeting halls.
(2) Some needs could be met by the re-use of redundant public authority buildings, e.g. schools. Given the difficulty of funding and financing suitable premises, the Borough Council would expect public authorities to give consideration to these needs before disposing of buildings and sites.
(3) The use of residential premises for medical consultancy or treatment, or day care for children, for example, will only be permitted if it can clearly be demonstrated that the proposal is essential in the locality and meets a recognised deficiency, and all other options, such as the use of surplus institutional, educational or other buildings, have been fully explored.
(4) New provision will normally be limited to the urban areas of the Borough, although the reuse and adaptation of rural buildings could provide premises in appropriate cases (see Policy Co 3).

EDUCATION AND CHILD CARE

Education

9. 5 Policy Cf 4 deleted (2005). Site for County First School at Alma Road, Reigate, completed.

Day-Care for Children

9. 6 The Borough-wide demand for day-care facilities can be expected to increase in view of trends in the birth rate and other factors, including the number of single parent families and working mothers. Apart from nursery education provided in conjunction with County First Schools, there are other types of facility provided by the private sector, such as child-minding, play groups and day nurseries. The Borough Council wishes to ensure that where additional provision is proposed account is taken of the environmental implications for the locality.

Policy Cf 5

The Borough Council will normally permit the provision of day care facilities for children in the urban areas, including change of use, in accordance with Policy Cf 3, provided that:-

(i) the scale and level of activity which would be generated would not adversely affect the amenities and privacy of adjoining properties;
(ii) there is adequate and safe provision for access and parking;
(iii) the proposal would not lead to a significant worsening of local traffic conditions; and
(iv) the appropriate design criteria as set out in Policy Cf 2 are met in full.

Amplification

(1) There is a need to protect the amenities of adjoining residences from the increased activity and potential nuisance associated with this provision. Therefore, the size of the curtilage should be adequate to afford such protection, to accommodate the required outdoor play space and off-street parking space, and situated in a street where there is adequate provision for picking up and setting down without loss of residential amenity or interference with the free flow of traffic.
(2) The Children’s Act 1989 requires registration by the Local Social Services Authority, which can impose requirements in connection with registration. The Borough Council will consult with the County Council Social Services Department on proposals, but registration of any of these activities by the Department does not imply that planning permission has or will be given.
(3) Where an exception is to be made to Policy Ho 1, the Borough Council would normally expect that, in the case of the use of private houses, separate accommodation for the owner would be retained.

COUNTY COUNCIL SERVICES

County Council Area Offices

9. 7 Policy Cf 6 deleted (2005) as site at Redstone Hill, Redhill, developed for housing.

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