PART ll VOLUME 2
Policy Reasoned Justification
 
Leisure
  8.1 THE ROLE OF THE PLAN
  8.2 GOVERNMENT POLICY GUIDANCE
  8.3 LEISURE TRENDS
  8.4 ISSUES
  8.5 OBJECTIVES
  8.6 POLICY JUSTIFICATION
   
 
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8.1 THE ROLE OF THE PLAN
8.1.1 Leisure activities are major pastimes of growing importance. Increasing affluence, leisure time and interest in fitness and health continue to contribute to the escalating demand for facilities. The links between health and exercise are firmly established and the benefits of recreation and leisure activities to individuals and society in general are acknowledged. The tourism and leisure industry is also of considerable economic value, providing an important source of employment accounting for about 7% of employment, approximately 7,500 jobs, in the District.
8.1.2 The term 'leisure' covers a range of activities which require a variety of facilities, not all of which are appropriate in all locations. Leisure activities generally fall into three categories:
i) recreation - countryside and 'open air' activities;
ii) 'sports' activities;
iii) 'commercial' activities - cinemas, pubs etc.
Tourists may use all of the above, but tourist accommodation is covered in the Employment section of the UDP.
 
8.1.3 Leisure facilities are important components in the development and use of land which contribute significantly to the quality of life. Accordingly, the UDP incorporates the Council's planning policies to foster the development of new leisure facilities which provide a wide range of opportunities in readily accessible locations for the full cross section of the community. A draft Sport and Recreation Strategy for the Wakefield District 1999-2005 is in the final stages of preparation. This will provide the basis for making decisions about the future planning of services and facilities, both new and existing.
   
 
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8.2 GOVERNMENT POLICY GUIDANCE
8.2.1 Government Planning Policy Guidance on sport, recreation, leisure and tourism is contained in the following documents: PPG17 (Sport and Recreation) dated September 1991; PPG21 (Tourism) dated November 1992; PPG6 (Town Centres and Retail Developments) dated June 1996 and PPG13 (Transport) dated March 2001.
8.2.2 The Government is concerned about the continuing loss of playing fields to development and, in December 1998, introduced additional safeguards in the form of a Direction requiring the notification of the Secretary of State of applications which a local planning authority proposes to approve, contrary to the advice of Sport England.
8.2.3 In February 1999, the Government clarified its policy in PPG6 on proposals for new leisure development as follows. Development proposed in an edge of centre or out of centre location and not in accordance with an up to date development plan strategy should be required to demonstrate both the need for additional facilities and that a sequential approach has been applied in selecting the location or the site.
8.2.4 Regional Planning Policy Guidance for Yorkshire and Humberside (RPG12, dated August 1996) provides specific guidance on issues of regional significance, and this in turn refers to the need to have regard to regional strategy, entitled "Principles, Partners and Players", produced by the Yorkshire and Humberside Council for Sport, and to local strategies for recreational, sporting and leisure activities.
8.2.5 The Yorkshire and Humberside Council for Sport has now been replaced by the Yorkshire and Humberside Sports Forum, and it's associated executive body, the Yorkshire and Humberside Sports Board. The Board is represented on the "Regional Cultural Consortium", which is required to produce a Regional Cultural Strategy, and will include sports and recreational issues, and thus incorporate a regional sports and recreational strategy.
   
 
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8.3 LEISURE TRENDS
8.3.1 This section briefly highlights the changes in society and trends in provision of leisure facilities and participation in leisure activities which will influence demand and planning policies.
8.3.2 The District's population is expected to decrease slightly by 2006 according to latest projections. There are expected to be significant changes in the age structure, in particular declines of 8,000 (12%) in the 0-15 age group and 9,000 (10%) in the 25-44 age group. Increases are expected in all other age groups, notably 8,000 in the 45-64 group. Overall the population is ageing.
8.3.3 Consequently, there is likely to be a decline in the numbers of people in most sections of the population where participation in sport and recreation is relatively high and increases in the older age groups, where the opportunity exists to encourage sport and active lifestyles as family responsibilities and work commitments reduce.
8.3.4 The number of households in the District is expected to rise, largely as a result of increasing numbers of single person households. Changes in the household structure, with fewer traditional families, together with economic changes such as part time and weekend working is likely to lead to an increase in demand for leisure activities from people with increasingly diverse lifestyles and home and family circumstances.
8.3.5 61% of the adult population in Yorkshire and Humberside take part in sport and active recreation compared with an average of 64% for all those living in Britain. (General Household Survey 1996). Nevertheless, the level of participation varies between different sections of the community, with women's participation rates lower than men's; however the trend is that this gap is steadily narrowing.
8.3.6 Walking continues to be the most popular sport by some way, with 45% of adults involved, more than twice as many as swimming, the next most popular activity. The most significant change has been the marked increase in popularity of recreational cycling, keep fit and aerobics, informal sports which do not require partners, opponents or fellow participants and which are associated with an increased concern for personal health and fitness. In contrast, the team sports such as football and cricket, have suffered a decline. Only hockey has escaped this trend, increasing substantially in popularity perhaps linked to the construction of a substantial number of synthetic turf pitches.
8.3.7 Indoor activities have consistently remained more popular with women than outdoor activities and the continual growth in their popularity explains most of the narrowing of the gap between men's and women's participation. Women comprise over 60% of those who participate in indoor sports while their participation in outdoor sports has remained more or less static with the exception of women's football, which is currently experiencing rapid growth.
8.3.8 Sport England recognises the need to develop better opportunities for young people to participate in sport. This has led to a focus on youth sport initiatives funded with Grant-in-Aid and Lottery Sports Funds. It is Sport England's aim to develop the "most comprehensive sports development programme in the world by the Year 2001" in partnership with a variety of agencies including local authorities.
8.3.9 Socio-economic status remains an important influence on participation in sport. People in non-manual jobs are more likely to take part in sport than their manual counterparts. The gap is particularly large for women in the semi-skilled and unskilled groups who are much less likely to take part in sport than other women. This pattern however, does not hold true for all sports. Some, such as football, show very little difference while others, such as snooker and darts are much more popular amongst manual workers.
8.3.10 The Countryside Agency surveys indicate that leisure facilities in the countryside (country parks, picnic sites, access areas, footpaths etc.) are well used; there are about 1.1 billion day visits to the countryside each year. The Agency recognises there are changes in the way people use their leisure time, e.g. the growth in mountain biking. Also there are many active retired people who like to visit the countryside. We need to take account of changing demands on the countryside.
8.3.11 During the 1970s and 1980s there was a substantial improvement in the provision of large scale facilities in the District. Although by no means the sole provider of leisure facilities the Council has played, and is likely to continue to play, a major role in the provision of a wide range of facilities, including parks, allotments, libraries, museums, art galleries, children's play grounds, swimming pools, sports pitches, sports halls / centres and public halls.
8.3.12 The Sport England's Facilities Planning Model will shortly be available to assist in defining and meeting facility requirements for the District, and will be used to assess facility needs as part of the work to produce a Sport and Recreation Strategy. A number of governing bodies of sport are also working on their facilities strategies which may have implications for regional and local facility requirements that impact upon Sport England's facilities.
8.3.13 With the advent of the National Lottery greater emphasis has been placed on the community use of leisure facilities, in particular educational facilities, to help remedy the shortfalls in provision and widen opportunities for the public. Despite increasing participation rates and improvements in facility provision there remain several important barriers to access to leisure opportunities, related primarily to physical, financial, social and transport factors. These barriers are more acute for certain sections of the community including women, young people, disabled people, ethnic minorities and unemployed, who have been identified as priority groups for attention by the Sport England.
   
 
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8.4 ISSUES
8.4.1 Several important issues are raised by the trends outlined above which need to be addressed in the context of the UDP:
  • Need to recognise the changing leisure market associated with the population trends, in particular the potential growth related to the older age groups and women.
  • Need to accommodate the escalating demand for a wide range of leisure activities, associated with the growing importance attached to such activities and the recognition of the contribution these activities can make to improving the quality of life, as recognised in the recent publication "Health of the Nation".
  • The importance of leisure facilities and countryside activities which are accessible to all sections of the community.
  • Need to address the shortfalls in the provision of certain leisure facilities and to explore partnership opportunities.
  • Need to reconcile the increased demand and possible opportunities for leisure in the countryside and the potential conflict with existing rural land uses, nature conservation.
 
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8.5 OBJECTIVES
8.5.1 To address these issues and provide the framework for developing policies which reinforce the overall aim and development strategy of the UDP, two leisure objectives have been identified:-
i) to facilitate the provision of a wide range of leisure opportunities in accessible locations throughout the District to encourage the full use of leisure time and contribute to raising the standard of health of the nation.
This objective reflects the growing demand and importance attached to leisure pursuits and the contribution such activities can make to achieving a healthier lifestyle and better quality of life. These activities offer opportunities for individual and community participation, improving self-esteem, community confidence and cohesion, can help to alleviate deprivation and contribute to social and economic regeneration. It also recognises that barriers exist which restrict access to leisure opportunities, and seeks to minimise those barriers related to and aggravated by poor accessibility.
ii) to secure greater community use of leisure facilities.
This objective seeks to maximise the leisure opportunities available by securing better use of existing facilities. It recognises that in many cases dual use of facilities provides a cost effective way of expanding opportunities, encouraging wider public participation and reduces the pressure for releasing additional land for facilities for participatory leisure pursuits.
   
 
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8.6 POLICY JUSTIFICATION
8.6.1 Policies have been developed which address the changing nature of demand for leisure activities, reflected in the trends and issues outlined earlier, and which reinforce the development strategy.
8.6.2 It should be noted that all proposals for Leisure development will also be subject to Environment, Transport and Open Land policies, in addition to those included within this chapter.
 
 
Leisure Development
   
L1 LAND IS ALLOCATED IN THE PLAN FOR INDOOR AND OUTDOOR LEISURE FACILITIES, URBAN OPEN SPACE AND COUNTRYSIDE RECREATION, TO SATISFY A WIDE RANGE OF LEISURE NEEDS.
 
8.6.3 Provision is made in the Plan for a range of leisure facilities, including open space, playing fields and for countryside leisure. However, a draft Sport and Recreation Strategy for the Wakefield District 1999-2005 is in the final stages of preparation. With the advent of Best Value further assessment is required of the leisure needs and aspirations of residents. All land allocated for leisure use is believed to be in sustainable locations.
8.6.4 The assessment of the provision of local open space undertaken for the Local Plans has not been updated at this stage and it continues to provide the basis for the proposals incorporated in the Plan. The assessment was based on the assumption that children should not have to walk more than 400 metres and should not have to cross a main road to reach such a facility. In this context, it is important that space is not only accessible but also safe in terms of the type of provision and its location, particularly as young children and adolescents are the major users of such facilities. Areas of housing which did not satisfy this requirement were considered deficient.
8.6.5 Open space and children's' play areas associated with new residential development are considered under the housing policy H9.
 
 
L2 NEW LEISURE AND TOURIST DEVELOPMENT WILL BE ENCOURAGED AND PERMITTED:
  i) IN THE CASE OF MAJOR TRAVEL-GENERATING USES, IN CITY, TOWN AND DISTRICT CENTRES OR, IN THE CASE OF SMALLER FACILITIES, IN LOCAL CENTRES;
  ii) OUTSIDE SUCH CENTRES, ONLY WHERE THERE IS A CLEARLY DEFINED NEED, WHERE THERE ARE NO MORE CENTRAL SITES AFTER HAVING BEEN FLEXIBLE ABOUT SCALE, FORMAT AND CAR PARKING, AND WHERE THE SITE IS OR WOULD BE READILY ACCESSIBLE BY A CHOICE OF MEANS OF TRANSPORT, INCLUDING WALKING, CYCLING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT;
  iii) ALL DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE CONSISTENT WITH THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SURROUNDING AREA.
   
8.6.6 Policy L2 establishes the framework for the provision of new leisure and tourist facilities. The Employment section sets out the Council's policy for tourist accommodation.
8.6.7 The policy identifies city, town, and district centres as the preferred location for all key town centre uses which attract large numbers of people (including leisure and entertainment facilities such as cinemas and bowling). Local centres will often provide the most appropriate location for smaller-scale leisure uses (such as pubs and restaurants). Central locations generally offer the greatest accessibility for all sections of the community, provide opportunities for linked trips to other attractions and facilities, and help sustain and enhance existing centres.
8.6.8 Leisure and tourist development (such as major new attractions like sports stadia and leisure parks) cannot always be located in existing centres. However, for leisure and tourist development proposals outside such centres to be acceptable in accordance with policy L2, applicants will be expected to justify the proposal and location against the specific tests set out by part (ii) of the policy.
8.6.9 The policy recognises the need to consider the compatibility of leisure and tourist development with its surroundings. This will be particularly relevant where development affects residential areas or other sensitive locations such as conservation areas.
 
 
Protection of Open Space
   
L3 GREEN OPEN SPACES IN THE URBAN AREA WILL BE PROTECTED WHERE THERE IS A LEISURE, NATURE CONSERVATION, URBAN WILDLIFE OR AMENITY VALUE ASSOCIATED WITH THE SITE. DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS WHICH MATERIALLY CONFLICT WITH THE VALUE OF SUCH LAND FOR THESE PURPOSES WILL NOT BE PERMITTED, UNLESS ARRANGEMENTS ARE MADE FOR SUITABLE ALTERNATIVE PROVISION.
 
8.6.10 The concept of Green Corridors promoted in the Environment policies, reflects the Council's commitment to the environment and, in particular, to the conservation of ecologically and environmentally important areas. Green Corridors will provide the framework for developing an integrated and linked system of open space for wildlife, amenity and leisure. In addition Open Land Policy OL3 provides the basis for protecting large tracts of open land within the built up areas of Wakefield.
8.6.11 Within this framework the Council has identified the need to protect local areas of open space, including school playing fields, in order to retain green space in urban areas. Policy L3 provides the context for protecting urban green space. For the purposes of this policy urban green space includes parks, playing fields, common land, allotments, children's' play areas and amenity space in public and private ownership.
8.6.12 The policy is intended to provide protection for urban open space with a recognised leisure, nature conservation or amenity value. However, the policy does not necessarily preclude all development and it provides the option for negotiating arrangements to secure alternative open space provision. At this stage it has not been possible to identify local urban open space to be protected on the Proposals Maps. The Council is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of open space provision and will bring forward specific proposals which will be incorporated in a future review of the Plan.
8.6.13 The importance attached to urban open space is recognised in PPG3 (March 2000). The guidance emphasises the need for higher densities and the re-use of previously developed land, but it also states 'Developing more housing within urban areas should not mean building on urban green spaces.' (paragraph 53).
8.6.14 The provisions of PPG3 complement those of Government Planning Policy Guidance on sport, recreation, leisure and tourism seeking to protect urban open space, referred to in paragraphs 8.2.1 and 8.2.2 above.
 
 
Community Use of Leisure Facilities
   
L4 THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE AND SEEK TO IMPLEMENT DUAL USE OF LEISURE FACILITIES, SO THAT COMMUNITY USE IS SECURED IN TANDEM WITH EDUCATIONAL OR OTHER PUBLIC OR PRIVATE USE, WHERE THIS CAN BE ACHIEVED WITHOUT DETRIMENT TO THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF THE FACILITY.
   
8.6.15 Community use of leisure facilities provides an opportunity to expand the facilities available to the public in accessible locations. Educational facilities, in particular, are well located to serve the community and are often under-utilised outside the educational day. Community use which provides this opportunity to better utilise existing facilities and buildings also reduces the pressure for releasing additional land.
8.6.16 The Council is committed to the regular official use of school premises outside school hours. When the opportunity arises, improvements to existing or provision of new indoor and outdoor school sports facilities will be designed to permit public use, normally outside school time. Bids for sports or arts lottery funding will be made when appropriate to upgrade or provide new school facilities for shared public use.
8.6.17 School governing bodies control the use of school facilities both within and outside school time. The Council has powers to direct governing bodies to allow use of school facilities but these are rarely used as the Council works in partnership with governing bodies to provide leisure and other educational activities for the community on school premises.
8.6.18 Agreement with the private sector for a degree of community access to private facilities may provide a mutually beneficial way to broaden opportunities for recreation and leisure, where buildings or facilities are under-utilised during particular times of the day or week.
 
 
Countryside Leisure
   
L5 PROVISION FOR COUNTRYSIDE LEISURE, INCLUDING COUNTRY PARKS AND LOCAL NATURE RESERVES, WILL BE ENCOURAGED AND PERMITTED WHERE IT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE CAPACITY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE TO ABSORB SUCH USES, THE CONSERVATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND OTHER ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS, AND COMPATIBLE WITH OTHER LEISURE INTERESTS.
 
8.6.19 Policy L5 acknowledges the increasing interest in both informal and organised outdoor leisure pursuits. In this context some activities require specific natural resources such as water, or forest, whereas other pursuits need access to countryside of a less specific nature, such as high quality landscape. The policy also recognises that the promotion of countryside leisure opportunities must be balanced with environmental conservation. Proposals will be considered in the light of the environmental policies contained in the Plan. In particular, it is anticipated that the Green Corridors will provide a framework within which leisure activities are developed in the countryside.
8.6.20 The Yorkshire and Humberside region is endowed with several designated countryside areas including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and national trails. This policy seeks to foster the development of local easily accessible facilities to supplement and relieve pressure on the more distant designated areas which are not necessarily readily accessible or suitable for the more intensive and intrusive activities.
8.6.21 The rural belt to the south of Wakefield, extending from Bretton to Wentbridge, already accommodates a number of leisure attractions which are well located in terms of accessibility to the urban areas in the District, as well as to a wider catchment areas. Proposals for extending or providing additional facilities and attractions will be encouraged to maximise opportunities and relieve pressure on the more remote and sensitive locations. In this context farm diversification and countryside stewardship might provide opportunities for leisure. Government measures introduced to reduce agricultural output and assist farmers to generate income from non-agricultural enterprises are designed so that the land could revert easily to agricultural production should the food supply situation change. This is compatible with many countryside leisure activities which are extensive users of land but do not require major building works. Changing farming practices such as less intensive cultivation and planting of new woodland will themselves provide opportunities for extending leisure activities in the countryside. Any proposals for additional leisure development in the countryside will be considered with due regard to Green Belt policies.
8.6.22 To reinforce the development strategy the opportunities to make provision for facilities close to the urban areas by reclaiming areas of derelict and degraded land will be exploited. Reclamation can provide a major contribution to the provision of additional leisure facilities, and can also provide an opportunity to accommodate the more intrusive forms of leisure activity which are not appropriate in sensitive environments or adjoining urban areas. The priorities associated with land reclamation and environmental improvements are incorporated in the Council's derelict land reclamation programme and the Environment policies in the Plan. Opportunities and proposals to provide additional leisure facilities and Country Parks, often through reclamation of derelict areas and mineral extraction sites, are identified in Volumes 3, 4, & 5 of the Plan.
8.6.23 Increased leisure activity in the countryside can lead to conflicts of interest, damage and disturbance to the finite and specific attractions of the countryside resources. Therefore L5 seeks to maintain a proper balance between increased access to the countryside and conservation of wildlife and the natural environment. The emphasis and priority attached to promoting and controlling leisure activities will vary depending on the inherent qualities and characteristics of the natural environment and capacity of the area to absorb such uses, to ensure the most appropriate balance is maintained. It is important that proposals which jeopardise this balance are not permitted.
 
 
L6 THE NETWORK OF PUBLIC FOOTPATHS, CYCLEWAYS AND BRIDLEWAYS WILL BE PROTECTED, AND IMPROVED AND EXTENDED AS OPPORTUNITIES ARISE, PARTICULARLY THROUGH THE RECLAMATION OF DISUSED RAILWAY LINES OR DERELICT LAND.
 
8.6.24 An integrated, well maintained network of footpaths, cycleways and bridleways is an essential ingredient in providing access to the countryside for pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders. Such a network provides an effective means for many people to enjoy the countryside at their convenience and provides a valuable link between the various leisure features and areas of attraction. In addition, footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes contribute to sustainability objectives of reducing the use of the car. 'Into the Countryside' (1989) provided the framework for improving rights of way and access to the countryside. This was superseded by the Council's Milestones Strategy, based on an initiative by the Countryside Commission (now Countryside Agency) which puts the emphasis on opening up the whole network of public paths and sets national targets for rights of way by the year 2000. The Milestones Approach aims to ensure that all rights of way are properly maintained, legally defined and promoted. WMDC has made some progress towards the targets and continues to monitor and review progress for rights of way work for the District.
8.6.25 A managed network of paths and trails with associated facilities co-ordinated with public transport services can provide ready access from the urban areas to the countryside, with a minimum of disturbance and conflict to other rural activities. The Council would like to see the network of footpaths, bridleways and cycleways augmented by the use of disused railway lines and derelict land. Together the routes would maximise use of existing linear corridors, thereby minimising any disruption to adjacent activities and upholding the principles of sustainable development. In the wider context such action safeguards these linear corridors for possible future use as rail or road communication links. The Council's Disused Railways Strategy highlights potential links between different types of route and where improvements might be made. The Strategy is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.
 
 
L7 THE LEISURE POTENTIAL OF THE DISTRICT'S WATERWAYS WILL BE PROMOTED AND DEVELOPED, IN A WAY WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY ON THE NETWORK. DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS ALONGSIDE THE WATERWAYS WILL BE CONSIDERED WITH DUE REGARD TO THEIR EFFECT ON ANY LEISURE DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL.
 
8.6.26 Policy L7 seeks to exploit the potential for leisure activities along the waterways corridors which respect and enhance the waterways and their qualities. The waterway system conveniently links countryside areas with existing facilities to those with potential and to the City of Wakefield. The Council is a member of a partnership which is looking to develop a mixed use regeneration scheme in close proximity to the City centre adjacent to the waterway. This will include a new art gallery, hotel, specialist retailing, craft workshops, a major new leisure facility and pub/restaurant. In addition, opportunities are to be considered for less intensive leisure pursuits such as walking, cycling, riding, angling etc. elsewhere along the waterways.
8.2.27 Nonetheless, it is important to ensure such development is consistent with the commercial activity on the network and the Council's desire to encourage the movement of freight by waterway where practical, in accordance with Policies T18 and I2.
 
 
Supplementary Planning Guidance
8.6.28 A series of Development Control Guidelines have been approved by the Council to further assist the control of development. These guidelines are listed in Appendix 1 and they will constitute material considerations in the determination of planning applications. Here attention is drawn to guidelines relating to the Green Plan for Wakefield District and the Parking Standards in Appendix 2.
 
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